Scandalous but successful ex-Boston Celtics HC more than blip in radar of C's ascent to Banner 18

Houston Rockets v Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets v Milwaukee Bucks / John Fisher/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics ascent to being in Banner 18 contention was aided by the presence of scandalous but successful former head coach Ime Udoka, says CelticsBlog's Bobby Manning, who sees the current Houston Rockets coach's influence on the C's current defense.

"In Boston, Brown and Tatum began the year talking about establishing a defensive identity," Manning wrote. "The team still switches as often as any in the league, something Udoka’s staff stressed and taught. Kristaps Porziņģis practiced playing away from the ball in recent weeks, a defensive strategy Robert Williams III utilized similarly to make Boston’s 2022 defense one of the best of the past decade. Udoka’s influence is more than a blip on the radar in this team’s continued ascent to a championship."

Udoka left a mark on Boston's starters from the 2021-22 Eastern Conference Championship season, with Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Jaylen Brown all being among the closest to the fired coach -- who was let go for conduct violations relating to an inappropriate relationship with someone in the Celtics organization -- and head coach Joe Mazzulla also shared support for the coach he came up in Boston under after two years of being a Brad Stevens assistant.

Joe Mazzulla grateful to have worked under Ime Udoka in lone Boston Celtics season

Mazzulla shared that he was "grateful" to have worked under Udoka during the C's highly-successful 2021-22 mid-season turnaround Finals appearance-defined campaign.

“You look at guys and coaches around the league who don’t get experiences working for multiple head coaches.," Mazzulla prefaced on January 12 (h/t NBC Sports Boston) before saying, "And so now that I can sit here today, I’m grateful that I got to work for him. I’m grateful that I got to see another way to do things because I was with Brad [Stevens] for three years, I think, and that was the only experience I had had in the NBA. So if I don’t get that opportunity to work for another coach, who’s worked for multiple coaches, who’s been on benches for championships, who’s been in San Antonio, Philly, other stops, then I don’t get to see how the league works and looking at it from a different perspective."

Mazzulla now has championship experience, albeit as an assistant, with a Cs team he is tasked with bringing Banner 18 in the wake of a championship-caliber coach being let go for reasons beyond his on-court performance. It's not an ideal place to be in, but he does seem to be taking all in stide -- and undeniably, Mazzulla is better off having had his Boston Celtics coached by Udoka before him.