Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Cavaliers coach David Blatt can't believe his good fortune
LAS VEGAS – Two months ago, David Blatt was on top of the world when led undermanned Maccabi Tel Aviv to stunning upsets over CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid for the Euroleague championship.
Three weeks ago, he was on top of the world when the Cleveland Cavaliers hired him as head coach, making him the first European-based person to get a head coaching job in the NBA.
CONTRACT: Why LeBron signed two-year deal with Cavaliers
HOMECOMING: LeBron to Cleveland is bigger than basketball
Three days ago, he was on top of the world when NBA superstar LeBron James announced he would return to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers.
"I've been parachuting from mountain top to mountain top in the last two months," Blatt told USA TODAY Sports.
So, who is David Blatt, the man who is going to coach LeBron James?
Blatt, who was born in 1959 in Framingham, Mass., is regarded as one the best basketball minds in the world. His journey from Framingham to Cleveland is remarkable and compelling.
He played at Princeton for legendary coach Pete Carril and embarked on a professional basketball career in Israel and then began his coaching career in Israel in 1993. He remained in Europe to coach in Israel, Russia, Italy, Turkey and Greece until the Cavs hired him.
"The Cavaliers are getting a guy who is one of the most creative coaching minds in the world," ESPN analyst and international basketball expert Fran Fraschilla said. "Most of the things that made him incredibly successful in Europe will translate to the NBA.His styles of play have varied based on the type of talent he has had."
It was that basketball mind that got the Cavaliers' attention. That is what they were looking for to lead a team desperately trying to become competitive again.
"More than anything else, the thing that spoke to us about David is his mind for the game," Cavaliers general manager David Griffin said. "He's unique. People said the hire's outside of the box. Dave is an innovator and he's somebody who's not afraid to try new things and he's somebody who has such a thorough understanding of the game from Xs and Os standpoint and human element, it was a perfect blend for us."
As a teenager, Blatt was an athlete but also participated in the choir and student government in high school. At Princeton, he studied English literature.
"I didn't grow up in a nuclear family but I was always surrounded by really good people who influenced me and then I met and became attached to different situations from different facets of life," Blatt said. "I did a lot of different things and was always finding myself in different environments and it's something I came to be comfortable with and that I liked."