Right before training camp last year, the Celtics had to figure out how to move forward without Ime Udoka, who had led them on a Finals run.
Two years ago, the Celtics engineered the most impressive in-season turnaround in NBA history, going from 11th in the Eastern Conference in mid-January. That meant that had the 2021-22 campaign ended at that juncture, Boston wouldn’t have even qualified for the play-in tournament.
But the team’s getting healthy coincided with becoming more comfortable in first-year head coach Ime Udoka’s system. Coupled with the staff making critical adjustments, like utilizing Robert Williams as a free safety who can protect the rim and get out to contest corner threes while Al Horford operates as the big man involved in containing pick-and-rolls, their lockdown defense led them to the second seed in the East and on a playoff run that came within two wins of capturing Banner 18.
However, last summer was a turbulent one in Boston. The Celtics had to deal with prolonging rumors about potentially trading a package centered around Jaylen Brown to acquire Kevin Durant. And one of their two most impactful offseason signings, Danilo Gallinari, tore his ACL during a FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifier before ever getting to suit up for his childhood NBA team.
And with media day and training camp on the horizon, Udoka’s season-long suspension for violations of team policies led to him now coaching the Rockets and thrust Joe Mazzulla from sitting behind the bench to becoming the Association’s youngest active head coach and finding himself at the helm of a title contender.
Joining host Kevin Hart for the launch of the ninth season of Cold as Balls, Jayson Tatum shared what he conveyed to the team while in the eye of the storm.
“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.’ And I think we just made a conscious decision that this (is) going to make us tougher and better.”
The full-length “Cold as Balls” Season 9 premiere featuring Jayson Tatum goes live tomorrow, Sep. 26, on the Laugh Out Loud Network’s YouTube channel.