David Blatt is still licking his wounds after being fired by the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, but his next job in the NBA could be just beyond the horizon..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
From my knowledge of David Blatt, I am not surprised that some people call him “David Melech Israel,” or King David. (take that, “King” James!) In my mind, he inspires the notion of a resurrected King David landing in our times through the game of basketball.
Blatt remains the same guy who, when I saw him dancing with my mom at my wedding in August 1995, said to myself: “That is the type of coach I never before had in my whole career; that’s a cool dude right there.”
For the first time in my hoops life, Blatt had me feeling secure and comfortable on defense.
Directly because of his team defensive philosophy, I had no fear of defending.
He is also the same person who rode his bicycle to practice when I was playing for Galil Elyon, and who consistently refused my offers for rides in my rental car.
He was my coach for half a season in Galil before he gave in and did what team management wanted by trading me to Hapoel Tel-Aviv.
“You’re my best point guard. Come on, it’s ridiculous,” I remember Blatt telling me at the time. “But I got to do what they want me do...”
He was very kind to me and man-to-man always told me the truth to my face, for good or bad.
This is exactly what happened to him now with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and ultimately led to his dismissal.
While Blatt is truly one of the best coaches in the world today, the “management” in this case was LeBron James, and the firing was written on the wall from Day 1.
Blatt got a lucrative three-year contract (all guaranteed) before the Cavs knew LeBron was coming back.
At the end of the day, even after everything that took place, I believe Blatt remains thankful for that fact. Even faced with the situation over again, he likely would have signed on for what he was dealt for the past season-and-a-half rather than take an assistant job somewhere else in the NBA.
Just like his days on the bicycle in Israel, Blatt never backs down from adversity – on the contrary, he thrives in situations in which he’s underdog with nothing to lose.
What he did with his Cleveland team in the Finals last season will be much more appreciated after the basketball world realizes the kind of historically great team the Golden State Warriors are.
In 10 years, people will go back in time and admire what he and the Cavs achieved in that series.
Like I mentioned above, it’s so much fun to play his system because you know you are not alone on defense and all five players will back each other up.
As a player, Blatt had to work extra and fight his way through with limited talent. But he was always diligent, persistent, hard-working, and even creative to buy time on the court by becoming an Israeli citizen, and above all, using his brain to compete. And, oh yes, compete at the highest levels! So he transformed his coaching methods to match his personality.
He was no dancer as a player, and certainly not as a coach.
Later on in his coaching career, he started allowing players to bring their game and not interfere with their decision-making on offense.
But defense was always paramount, for everyone on the court.
However, the main dancer for the Cavaliers didn’t like the rhythm Blatt was playing. End of story.
Still, Kind David had couth and class to thank the Cavs’ organization and all involved in his saga, and leave as a true gentleman.
Just like when he finished the dance at my wedding and bowed with respect, and my mom looked over and said, “he’s such a nice gentleman, let’s hope he coaches better than he dances.”