Shalom Life | May 25, 2015

A Letter to David Blatt, From an Israeli Fan

'David has more basketball in the tip of his fingernail than all his detractors have in their heads,' Pini Gershon said to me. And he was right

By: Rafi Ginat

Published: May 20th, 2015 in Sports » Local

Photo: David Blatt with Kylie Irving

Credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images


Hi David,

I feel like shouting out loud and clear: Cleveland's last and decisive victory over Chicago was all down to you, man. This time, at long last, everyone unanimously agrees that you played it just right – even those bigmouths that have given you such a basting, time and again, about every little thing throughout your first year in the best league in the world.

The victory is yours because without the injured Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and with LeBron James having a terrible shooting day, you taught the Bulls a lesson – together with a number of semi-anonymous bench players who took to the court and gave their hearts, bodies and souls for the sake of the team and the coach who put them on the map.

Matthew Dellavedova (Who'd even heard of that Australian kid before you placed him center stage?), Iman Shumpert, J. R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson (13 points, 17 rebounds) ran their socks off for you, David; they perfectly executed your dynamic game plan, in defense and offense; and in doing so, they and you crushed the stars of Chicago, pulverized their coach at critical moments of the game, and emerged victorious from the mother of all money-time games.

I sat here alone in my living room, in the dark, banging on the table and shouting like an excited kid. Exactly like a year ago. Back then, I was with friends in the rocking stands of the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, and we were all screaming like lunatics as we watched you make fools of all the Final Four experts on your way to devouring CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid and capturing the EuroLeague Cup. Israel couldn't have been prouder or loved you more. And then you left for Cleveland. And I tagged along.

You are the reason why I am now an avid Cavaliers fan. You have caused me to stay awake all night in front of the TV screen. I haven't missed a single game. I witnessed every moment of the tough beginning, and I was hurt by the cruel campaign waged against you, the exaggerated assault on the unknown rookie who came out of nowhere and wasn't afforded even a moment of grace.

At the height of the anti-Blatt campaign, I went to see you mentor, Pini Gershon, and asked for his view on how things were going to end. "David has more basketball in the tip of his fingernail than all his detractors have in their heads," Pini said to me. "Just wait; it'll all work out." And he was right.

David, you have learned in a hard and painful way that in America, the big star gets what he wants and calls the shots. And the biggest of the stars plays for you – and he, of all people, is the one who is giving you hell. The media holds holy the evil words of the king, blowing them out of proportion and turning them into public opinion. LeBron is a giant of a player, but a small man. Public statements like the ones he has made did not come from the mouths of those even greater and wiser than he, like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and others.

King James reminds me of King Maradona, another big player with a big mouth who will never win the same admiration and love afforded the humble and noble Pele. In sports as in life, character is no less important than talent when it comes to measuring greatness and a legacy.

I think, David, that when it comes to LeBron's idle chatter, you played things smart and right. You were right to lower your head and allow the ugly words to pass by. You responded to the punches with compliments; you answered the jabs with caresses. You kept your ego under wraps – and you were right to do so because you had no choice. LeBron is the king; he wins games and he knows how to and can win championships. Despite his shameful and unfair behavior towards you, he's the golden ticket to your success. So let him continue talking nonsense, as long as he keeps scoring.

David, you have led Cleveland to the regional finals and Atlanta, the best team in the East, now awaits you. I know you will do everything and more to win the series, and I so want it to happen. Less so because I think that you deserve to be a champion already in your rookie year, and more so because I'm dying to see you shut a few big mouths over there in America. And in Israel too.

Good luck, man!

Reprinted with permission from Ynet News

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