Boston could have let their head coach Ime Udoka’s firing define them, but Jayson Tatum wasn’t going to let that happen.
The Celtics suspended Udoka for the entirety of last season and ultimately dismissed him, following an alleged affair with a female team staff member.
Assistant Joe Mazzulla was thrust into the role as the league’s youngest active head coach and Tatum revealed what he said to his team amid all the drama.
“I remember I talked to the team, and I was like, ‘Yo, we have a decision to make: We could either separate, or we could bring us together,’ Tatum said on Cold as Balls. “And I think we just made a conscious decision that this (is) going to make us tougher and better.”
To their credit, Boston did have a crack at claiming the title, but were eliminated by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
At the time when the C’s were on the brink of elimination, longtime NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski believed that the Udoka firing situation was still haunting the team.
“This locker room never got over Ime Udoka’s dismissal as head coach,” he said.
“I think for this team and talking with management, they never got any more answers than the public was getting on this. That doesn’t mean they haven’t accepted Joe Mazzulla as head coach, but this is a team that really believed in Ime Udoka and had a strong connection with him.”
Fast forward to now and Boston have made some adjustments for the upcoming season.
They traded for a man they call The Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis and Tatum has mixed feelings on the new-look side.
“Our team looks a little different, which I’m excited and sad about,” Tatum said. “Smart and Grant are gone but we got some great new additions.”
Boston’s first regular season test will be against the Knicks on October 25 at The Garden.