Skip to content

Tatum: Mazzulla uses UFC fights to motivate Celtics

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla has been turning to the UFC to help motivate his team during their NBA Finals run.

Following the Celtics' 106-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 3 on Wednesday night, Jayson Tatum revealed that Mazzulla uses clips of UFC fighters getting choked out to encourage his players to stay at the top of their game.

"Joe does a great job of showing us clips and things from different sports," Tatum said. "He's a big UFC fan, and showing us fights of people that - I don't know the terminology of UFC - but put them in a chokehold and shit.

"Like, they're about to tap out, and you just see the guy or the woman who's winning relaxing because they feel like they're about to win and then you give the other person life. I'm just trying to translate that to the game of basketball, that the closer you are to winning, the closer that they are to surviving. And basically just trying to remind us in a group that we still got a long way to go, we still have to play the right way, we still got to win. That they're not gonna quit and we should expect the best from them from here on out."

Mazzulla is no stranger to being placed in a chokehold, as he practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He told the "Pardon My Take" podcast in April that the martial art has helped him connect more with his players.

"It gives me a way of being empathetic, like I know what they're going through," Mazzulla said. "No coach understands what their players go through, what they sacrifice physically and mentally. If I can get the shit kicked out of me from time to time, it's only going to help me get better."

With their win Wednesday, the Celtics now hold a 3-0 series lead over the Mavs. Game 4 is set for Friday night.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox