It appears that as long as LeBron James is on the Cleveland Cavaliers, David Blatt will be a lightning rod.
In preseason discussions about the NBA, and when the question of what could derail the Cavs’ hopes of getting back to The Finals, the answer inevitably was either health or the head coach.
Apparently, getting a team with two injured all-stars to the brink of championship doesn’t gain you any respect from the NBA media intelligentsia.
Look, we understand that is life for a coach who has LeBron James on their team. James gets the credit if the team wins, and the coach and/or general manager take the heat if the squad falls short of a title.
We are also pretty sure that Blatt understands this as well.
Still, it’s incredible that the criticism of the Cavaliers’ coach has continued into the beginning of a new season.
We understand that Blatt’s only been in the NBA for a year, and whether you discount all of the international experience the man has, there should be no question that he has been around the game a long, long time, and he understands the game of basketball.
Is the NBA game different? Of course. Is the NBA a players’ league? Absolutely.
But if you know the game, you know the game.
And Blatt knows and understands the sport, and his team’s have been pretty successful over the years.
He doesn’t get any credit for transforming the Cavs into the best defensive team in the playoffs last year. And when J.R. Smith tells the media he would walk through a wall for Blatt, you can almost see people’s eyes roll.
Kyrie Irving has spoken glowingly about Blatt in the past, and men who played for him overseas have given him glowing reviews.
However, we guess none of that matters until LeBron James says it, and that’s probably never going to happen, because it’s never happened before at the professional level.
James did repeat many times during the post-season a year ago that the coaching staff gave them an excellent game plan, and it was up to the players to carry it out.
And when the Cavs had the ball with 10 seconds remaining in the season opener against the Bulls, it appeared that James and Blatt were discussing the final play and looked to be in agreement.
It won’t end until the wine and gold win the final game of the season, hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and have a parade down Euclid Avenue.
Even then, some media crackpot, probably from ESPN, will say that Blatt will be on the hot seat if the Cavs don’t get off to a good start.
Blatt is an outsider from the NBA circle, and he doesn’t have the best relationship with the press, mostly because he knows that he knows more about the game than they do, and isn’t shy about letting them know that.
We know people who are friendly with the media get a fairer shake (see Shapiro, Mark).
The criticism of David Blatt is getting out of hand. If the Cavs are 10-15 and aren’t playing hard, then he should be on the hot seat. But, the folks who cover the NBA had him out last year win or lose in The Finals, but here he is back strolling the sidelines.
And if LeBron wanted him out, the guess here is he would be out.
James may not think he’s the greatest coach, but he apparently doesn’t think Blatt is a hindrance to winning.
Until they start losing, or don’t win a title because of his coaching, let’s keep the narrative that David Blatt can’t coach out of the news.
Except that will never happen.