David Blatt Introduces Himself to the NBA
The Israeli-American coach brings confidence and humor as Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers
David Blatt, former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach, was officially introduced as the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers at a press conference Wednesday.
Blatt automatically put minds at ease and won over analysts when he brought along his fresh sense of humor and a thick air of confidence.
He warned everyone that he has won everywhere from Maccabi through Benetton through the Russian national team and back through Maccabi. Also, that he plans on doing the same in the NBA. Then he asked and hoped that he would have everyone's help along the way.
Blatt used humor to admit he won't replicate the winning percentage he had with Maccabi in the Israeli league.
"I hope I bring the philosophy of Maccabi Tel Aviv, which is never lose a game," he declared. "Not one or there's going to be a countrywide investigation." Then, he added to the amusement of the reporters in the room, "I hope the manager didn't hear me say that."
Blatt now owns the distinction of being the first European head coach to take the head of an NBA team. The 55-year-old brings a proven track record, complete with Israeli, Russian and European titles.
"I've been coaching for over 20 years in Europe I played for another 12 years professionally. It's a great honor to represent the fine European coaches that I've worked with, and coached against. It's a great honor to have received the benefit of coaching great players, many of whom are now in the NBA and many others who could be. "
The Massachusetts native added: "I know that I'm carrying a torch. I hope like hell that I don't drop it. I don't plan on it."
Blatt touched base on the differences between the European and American styles of basketball, yet rejected any idea that the adjustment would impede on his path to success.
"The game is not so different as people think it is," he said. "It's a little bit longer here. Perhaps the level of athleticism and speed all around the court is different. But it's not like playing baseball and soccer. It's still the same game. I've coached enough international games, participated in enough events that include NBA players and NBA teams to know that when you play the game right it doesn't really make a difference where you play it."
Blatt acknowledged that he is aware that the Cavaliers are in far from an ideal position.
"Like many teams we have many areas for improvement that we must address," he said. "We have a new system to incorporate and our team tactic and learning curve in terms of implementing a new style team.
When asked about the philosophy he planned to bring to the Cavaliers, he referred to Drew Kennedy, a former player of Blatt’s who drove in from Chicago for the press conference.
"He'll tell you the same thing I'm going to tell you right now," he said. "It's always been the same: Play hard, play together play to win and have fun. There's not a lot I can tell you tactically right now until I sit down with the players and get inside their heads, till I see the final roster is gonna be."
Blatt describes himself as the coach who learns "from what you have" rather than a "systematic" coach.
"I'm not an offensive or defensive coach," he said. "I'm a basketball coach."