Is Coach Firing LeBron’s Fault?
The palace intrigue in Cleveland that cost David Blatt his job as the coach of the Cavaliers sparked all manner of discussion among NBA fans.
Blatt, clearly, didn’t work well with his biggest star, LeBron James, and his offense failed to find a role for big man Kevin Love. LeBron and the team have gone out of their way to say The King did not pull the trigger on Blatt’s firing last week with the team 30-11 and coming off a trip to the NBA Finals.
Let’s just say the lack of belief in that explanation runs deep. And far. In Israel, where Blatt is a citizen and built his international reputation coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to a European title, there is absolute outrage. Basketball is an international sport and it knows no boundaries.
Here’s a bite of what Agence France Press (AFP) reported after Blatt was sacked on Friday:
“LeBron James is now the most hated person in Israel,” said Sharon Davidovitch, a sports journalist for Israeli news site Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
Quite a mouthful. But Davidovitch had more to say to AFP of the firing that made the front page of Israeli newspapers.
“It’s a little bit joking and a little bit true: These days I can only compare the Israeli hate for LeBron James to the hate for Hamas,” he said, speaking of the Palestinian Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and which calls for Israel’s destruction.
Blatt’s history in international basketball, where coaches have greater power and authority than in the NBA, clashed with the NBA’s star culture. He isn’t the first coach undermined by a great player and he won’t be the last. But it’s hard to imagine any great athlete pulling off this sort of power move and being compared with Hamas.
The Cavaliers are now 1-1 under new coach Tyronn Lue after posting a 114-107 win at home on Monday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves. LeBron scored 25 points.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman