Cleveland wrongfully fires head coach David Blatt after one-plus seasons
Not many coaches get fired the day after a 115-102 victory over the fourth-best team in the Western Conference.
But David Blatt isn’t like most coaches. And the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t like many franchises.
Friday afternoon, the day after notching the second-straight double-digit victory, Blatt was informed by team ownership that he had been fired despite his team’s 30-11 record, which puts the Cavs first in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
Tyronn Lue will take over as coach.
In his first year in the league, Blatt coached the Cavs to a trip to the NBA Finals as the No. 2 seed in the East, ultimately losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Sine when is a trip to the NBA Finals and a 19-game-over-.500 record the following season grounds for dismissal? Not even in the NFL – the most overreacting league in America – do I think a coach would get his job taken away for doing an equivalent job as Blatt has.
But Blatt never seemed all that welcomed by in Cleveland, or at least by who counts most in Cleveland – LeBron James.
Blatt’s job came into question last season during a rough patch, part of the growing pains that undoubtedly come with putting three stars on the same team and all three want the ball in their hands. We saw the same thing happen in Miami the first season James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teamed up. It takes time for that much firepower to jell together.
It worked out fine for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who had far-less head coaching experience when he was tasked with heading Miami’s Big Three than Blatt had when he was hired as the head coach Cleveland.
People seem to forget that Blatt was one of the more-successful coaches overseas before coming to the NBA. Blatt won the Israeli League championship five times, won the Israeli Cup six times, was a four-time Israeli League Coach of the Year, and also coached the Russian National Team to to a gold medal in the 2007 FIBA EuroBasket tournament.
Some people will scoff at that and say none of those things matter because he hadn’t coached in the NBA, but a ring is ring no matter what league or level. He must’ve been doing something right to hoist all that hardware over his career overseas.
In spite of the being the second seed in the East heading into the playoffs, most felt that the Cavs had the best chance of advancing to the Finals. They did, eventually losing to team with the best record in the league in the Warriors and MVP Stephen Curry.
And not to make excuses, but the Cavs were playing for a majority of the final round of the playoffs without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the other two players besides James from the Cleveland Big Three.
Irving’s injury not only sidelined him for the games 2-6 of the Finals, but also for the first two months of this year’s regular season. So, once again, the Cavs were going to need to jell once he returned to the lineup.
Granted, since Irving’s return Cleveland is 0-3 against the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. But the Cavs are 11-1 against all other teams in the 15 games their star point guard has been active for this season.
And at the end of the day, when do we as start blaming the players on good teams for playing badly instead of instantly blaming the coach when the team slightly underperforms to our expectations? The coach, in this case Blatt, can’t suit up. He can’t knock down the clutch 3-pointer and can’t get the defensive stop to seal the victory.
All he can do is coach, and put his studded lineup in the best position to win. At the end of the day it comes down to whether the not the players perform.
So far this season, Cleveland players have performed well against bad teams, and not as well against the best teams in the league.
Whether or not Blatt will continue coaching elsewhere in the National Basketball Association remains to be seen, but what is obvious is that the Cavs have no better shot of winning the NBA title without Blatt than they did with him.
Good luck coach Lue, you’re going to need it. You’re seat is getting warmer by the second.