HoopsHype David Blatt rumors

August 7, 2012 Updates
August 6, 2012 Updates

David Blatt has told the story many times, but his first few days as coach of a Russian basketball team were not joyous. He couldn't communicate with his players; his players couldn't communicate with him. He was a Jewish American who'd lived in Israel and raised his family, now trying to make a go of it in a country whose history with Jews is littered with horrors. One morning, not sure if he hadn't made a terrible mistake, Blatt went to get something to eat with his assistant coach, Kestutis Kemzura. While waiting for their food, a man plopped down on the stool next to them. In Russian, he asked for a shot of vodka, and downed it. Thirty seconds later, the man asked for another shot, and downed that one, too. Blatt asked Kemzura what was going on. "Russian breakfast," Kemzura replied. "I knew then that I was gonna like it there," Blatt said Sunday. NBA.com

Blatt has earned a reputation around the world as one of basketball's best coaches. He has won everywhere over the last decade, culminating in Russia's upset victory to capture the 2007 EuroCup over dominant Spain, a tournament hosted by Madrid. "He's got respect from Russia, which is a really difficult country to get respect from," says Tony Ronzone, the longtime international scout now working with the Mavericks, and who has scouted opponents for USA Basketball for the past several years. NBA.com

After Princeton, Blatt helped lead the U.S. team to the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1981, then was trying to decide what to do next. He came back to the States. "I think David worked for Xerox for six months or something like that," Steve Mills said. "He called me one day and said 'I can't do this anymore. I'm going back over there to play.'" NBA.com

It would also be a rematch of the matchup between the United States and Russia in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey, a game whose buildup was made spicier when Blatt and U.S. Coach Mike Krzyzewski had dueling press conference exchanges. Blatt had said then that, after watching a documentary on the controversial game, he'd come to believe that the Soviets had won the game fairly. NBA.com

Told of Blatt's comments, Krzyzewski first said that Blatt had that viewpoint because Blatt was Russian (he isn't), and then said that the '72 game would always be a negative memory for Americans and "somewhat of a positive for those who believe in fairy tales." NBA.com

"I've known him for many, many years," Blatt said. "He coached against my Princeton team at the Aloha Classic in Hawaii in 1980. He was a rookie coach for Army, and I was playing for Princeton. I've known this guy forever. It cleared up as soon as it was over. A lot of it was grandstanding between the two of us -- moreso on his part. I was coming from a place where my message, I had hoped, was that the world changes and we view history a little bit differently when you have perspective. And Coach K jumped on it as a motivating factor for his team. OK. He was doing what he had to do for his unit. But no, we haven't had any problem. Hell, I talked to him this summer about players ... we're fine." NBA.com

August 4, 2012 Updates
July 29, 2012 Updates
May 30, 2012 Updates

Blatt compared Shved’s situation to that of Jeremy Pargo, whom he coached at Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv before Pargo moved to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2011 but failed to break into the team. “I told him ‘You need to wait one more season, to be a lead player another year before you make the jump.’ He went, he didn’t play a minute the whole season, he didn’t even dress in the playoffs,” Blatt said. RIA Novosti

September 15, 2011 Updates

David Blatt on Kirilenko: “Have you ever been a horse trainer? Andrei is like a beautiful, wild horse. He’s best when he’s roaming around and running free. We ask him to play within the system, but honestly his best moments are when he’s doing what his heart and his instincts are telling him to do. Most of his great plays, they come not from the structure, but from the mind and the beautiful kind of talent he has. The lucky thing is that’s he’s not a selfish man, he is not a greedy player, he plays for the team.” SheridanHoops

September 14, 2011 Updates

"Being part of that country, with my background, and feeling I have contributed is amazing," he says. But last fall, after a world championship in which Russia lost to the United States in the quarterfinals, he came close to calling it quits. There was talk of interference from the oligarchs who control Russia's largest clubs, allegations that they were ordering their players to sit out rather than represent. "I threatened to leave but that was to make a point and to try and engender some change," he says. That he is still in charge here in Lithuania as the latter stages of this year's EuroBasket begin indicates that the issues have been resolved. ESPN.com

"I've been approached [by NBA teams] but never for the kind of position that I would need in order to make the jump. ... If someone feels I can lead an NBA team, or be a guy who might ultimately down the road be a head coach, then that would be of interest. Otherwise, coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv is too good a job and too satisfying to walk away from. I'm at the top of the world with the guys I work with, the organizations I work for, the international competitions I participate in with Russia. Where do I need to go? I'm as happy as I can be." ESPN.com

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