Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Will David Blatt Be Able to Coach the Cavaliers Back to Life?

The Israeli-American coach has agreed to a four-year deal with Cleveland where he will reportedly earn up to $20 million

By: Daniel Koren

Published: June 23rd, 2014 in Sports » Local

Will David Blatt Be Able to Coach the Cavaliers Back to Life?

The Cleveland Cavaliers still haven’t been able to shake off that massive slap to the face issued by LeBron James when he left them after the 2010 season. The team fell from .744 to .232 in a single year, and the recent 2013-14 season didn’t see them do much better.

As such, for weeks they had been looking to replace former coach Mike Brown, a void that they traveled halfway around the world to fill: Israel.

Since Maccabi Tel Aviv won the EuroLeague championship last month, decorated coach David Blatt has been openly discussing his desires to come to the NBA, despite not having much experience in the United States, save for a stint at Princeton University during the early 1980’s and as a member of the USA national team.

But he’s had an amazingly successful career, and the Cavaliers obviously acknowledge it, offering Blatt a four-year contract, which he’s accepted, that sources say will pay the American-Israeli up to $20 million.

Cavaliers GM David Griffin announced the decision to promote the 55-year-old Blatt as the team’s 20th head coach earlier this week. “David is a great basketball coach and a special person,” said Griffin in an official statement. “His abilities to communicate, to build relationships with his players and to foster winning environments at several stops throughout Europe and across the highest levels of International competition speaks for itself…..He has an uncanny ability to adapt his system to maximize the talents of his teams year after year. That is why I am very confident he will make a smooth transition to the NBA. There is a great opportunity to accelerate the progress of moving our team and franchise to the higher level of play we all believe we are capable of achieving. I am excited that the experience, knowledge, skills and leadership David will bring to the Cavaliers is the right fit at the right time.”

Besides coaching Tel Aviv to victory (not to mention to a 54-18 record this season) Blatt has also led them to six Israeli Cup championships and five Israeli league Championships.

In the last four seasons, his teams have been 222-55.

Prior to his coaching gig in Israel he served as the head coach of the Russian national team, where he led them to a FIBA Eruopean Championship in 2007. Under his tutelage, the Russians also won the bronze medial at the 2012 London Olympics.

Blatt has also been named Israeli League Coach of the Year four times, and was a member of the USA national team in 1981. They took home the gold that year.

He was also hailed as the “Jewish Jordan” during his highschool days by Sports Illustrated.

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