While fans may miss the sight of Joe Mazzulla’s constant gum chewing during Celtics games, the change was not taken lightly by the head coach.
After being named interim head coach at the beginning of the season, Mazzulla sought out a coach of his own, someone who could challenge him and get the most out of him.
Eventually he opted to search for a new jiu-jitsu teacher. Mazzulla began studying the martial art in 2017 but had lost touch since joining Boston’s staff in 2019.
Mazzulla discussed his decision to dive back into jiu-jitsu during an exclusive interview with the Boston Globe.
“It was important to have something where I was being coached every day, where I was being challenged, so I could use that to help my leadership,” Mazzulla said. “I thought it was very important to get back into it as fast as I could.”
The Celtics eventually found a coach for Mazzulla in Alex Costa. The Brazilian, former jiu-jitsu champion was the one who addressed the problem with Mazzulla’s gum chewing.
Costa, who attends every home game, some road trips, and studies each press conference, has become very familiar with the coach’s tendencies and signs of stress.
The two determined that that rampant gum chewing was disrupting Mazzulla’s breathing and the habit was dropped.
Losing the bubble gum wasn’t the only way that Costa has helped Mazzulla, though. The head coach says he finds valuable lessons in the gym with his teacher.
“The mat brings an awareness, a humility, and a level of discomfort and being challenged that really benefits me,” Mazzulla said. “You have to go to places to lose in order to win. Because of my inexperience, it’s where I go to lose.”
Sign up for Celtics updates????
Get breaking news and analysis delivered to your inbox during basketball season.