Reporter asks Boston Celtics coach race-baiting question, Joe Mazzulla shuts him down with one sentence about Christianity

A sports reporter asked a loaded, race-baiting question to Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazulla during a Saturday press conference ahead of Game 2 of the NBA Finals. However, Mazzulla didn’t take the bait and shut down the reporter with one sentence about Christianity.

Mazzulla is squaring off Dallas Mavericks’ head coach Jason Kidd – both of whom are biracial with white mothers and black fathers.

Vincent Goodwin, a senior reporter for Yahoo Sports, asked, “For the first time since 1975 this is the NBA Finals where you have two black coaches. Given the plight, sometimes, of black head coaches in the NBA, do you think this is a significant moment, do you take pride in this, how do you view this, or do you not see this at all?”

Mazzulla immediately fired back, “I wonder how many of those have been Christian coaches?”

The one-sentence response completely shut down Goodwin and the room went completely silent until another reporter was tapped to ask the next question for the Celtics’ coach.

You can watch the exchange here.

After the video clip went viral on social media, Goodwin doubled down and wrote a 1,600-word rebuttal to being shut down by Mazzulla.

In the article titled “Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla’s unwillingness to discuss race a complicated issue,” Goodwin argued: “Race is one of the defining issues in this country, and it’s not easy to talk about, but when one avoids it, it adds fuel to an already complicated fire.”

The reporter described Mazzulla’s answer to his race-baiting question about a basketball game to be “awkward” and “just an abrupt stop.”

He compared Mazzulla’s response to that of Orlando Magic star Jonathan Isaac, who Goodwill accused him of using “religion as a shield against the discussion of police brutality on black folks.”

Goodwill admitted that NBA players are “overwhelmingly black.”

Goodwill attempted to defend his racial question by bringing up discrimination that Celtics legend Bill Russell experienced in Boston some 60 years ago.

The reporter claimed, “Colorblindness is impossible.”

Goodwill concluded his article with a hypothetical scenario of Mazzulla being pulled over by police.

“But if he’s pulled over in Boston, the police will see his last name on his license, but before they find out anything else about him, they’ll see a black man first,” he wrote.

“My faith is just as important as my race, if not more important.”

Mazzulla discussed his faith and race in a 2022 interview with Andscape – a self-described “black-led media platform dedicated to creating, highlighting, and uplifting the diverse stories of black identity.”

Mazzulla was asked about his thoughts about there being a record 16 black NBA coaches from the perspective of him being half black and half Italian, and he responded:

It’s one part and it’s not the whole me. So, my identity and who I am as a person is important and knowing who I am is important. And I think being a part of that is important for society. It’s important for the league. It’s important for the players. It’s important for people to understand that it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, you can get to where you want to go. That fundamental principle is extremely important. And so, being a part of that is huge. But I don’t want to be just defined by that. That’s also important to me.

My faith is just as important as my race, if not more important. But I understand that in order to reach different people, you have to be your whole self and you can’t put yourself in a box. And so, I want to be able to reach Black people, Christians, non-Christian. Whoever it is, I want to be able to be an opportunity for that person.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, Mazzulla is a devout Catholic and Kidd is the son of an Irish Catholic, and both are graduates of Catholic school.

Mazzulla has spoken about his faith multiple times with the press, including two iconic moments.

In a postgame press conference in December 2022, a reporter asked about meeting the “royal family” of Prince William and Kate Middleton – who attended a Celtics game.

Mazzulla acutely replied, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph? I’m only familiar with one royal family.”

During the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals, Mazzulla was questioned about the pressures of coaching in the high-stress playoffs.

He explained that he balanced his life by visiting three females under the age of 21 dealing with terminal cancer.

“And I thought I was helping them by talking to them and they were helping me. So having an understanding about what life is really all about and watching a girl die and smiling and enjoying her life, that’s what it’s really all about and having that faith,” Mazzulla said. “The other thing is you always hear people give glory to God and say thank you when they’re holding a trophy. But you never really hear it in times like this. So for me, it’s an opportunity to just sit right where I’m at and just be faithful. That’s what it’s about.”

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