David Blatt Rumors
Do you think LeBron James is coachable? David Blatt: Hey, listen: How many championships has he won? Obviously, he’s coachable. I can name you 30 NBA coaches right now that would love to have him. Do you think LeBron James fired you? David Blatt: I don’t think that. Of course he didn’t fire me. He’s not the one to do that. That was the management decision.
Keith Dambrot, the head basketball coach at the University of Akron, coached James at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and the two are still close. I called him the other day on the road, to ask about working with the greatest player in the world. “You can’t be afraid to coach him,” Dambrot says, in a charming twang. “Like all great players, he wants to be coached. I still tell him the truth whenever I talk to him. I think that’s what you do with people you care about: tell ’em the truth. And whenever he’s had any slippage, I know he’s got in his heart, and in his mind, goodness.” “You can’t do anything without LeBron’s blessing; it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to figure that out,” he says of Blatt’s firing. “But LeBron’s never said a negative thing to me about Coach Blatt. And that’s the honest-to-God truth.”
How do you evaluate your own performance in Cleveland? David Blatt: I wish that I had had the knowledge and the experience that I have now when I first came in. I think I could have done a much better job. I know I could have. And I probably could have handled everything a lot easier. But, I didn’t! I went through what I went through. I know in my heart I could have done more. I could have done a better job. Although, I didn’t do a BAD job.
It also left Blatt the forgotten man in the most memorable NBA Finals of a generation. At the time, Blatt was in Italy consulting for the Canadian national team. “Certainly, you feel a twinge,” he tells me. “But look, I had a lot of people that I worked with on that team. I felt genuine happiness for them. I knew what we’d gone through to bring the team to that point, where they could compete on that level. There was genuine joy for the people I cared about.” Due to time differences, Blatt didn’t watch the Finals live. “I was following it, but I wasn’t watching,” he says, “because I was asleep.”
There were NBA assistant opportunities discussed, but Blatt was only focused on top openings in New York, Houston and Sacramento. “I was interviewing for head coaching jobs,” Blatt would tell me later of his post-Cleveland days. “And if I wasn’t gonna get one, I was gonna come back to Europe. I made that decision on day one.”
It was a bit surprise that you signed a contract with Darüşşafaka Doğuş and come back to Turkey. What was the main reason for you to select Darüşşafaka? David Blatt: I had to do something after I realized that I wasn’t going to get a head coaching job this year in the NBA. I wanted to sign with a high level team in Europe. There were different things happening but Darüşşafaka was the team that filled my requirements for team environment, vision and commitment to excellence. Even though it’s not a team that having recent tradition in European basketball, it’s a team that wants to get there. Helping that kind of team to achieve that level was very appealing to me. That was the reason why I came here.
You said you realized you were not going to get a head coaching job in the NBA. But there were some rumors that you were about to sign with an NBA team. What can you say about those rumors and if you accept them can you give us team names? David Blatt: Sure, I was very very close to sign with an NBA team. Some of them have been published but I don’t want to talk about it because they have their coaches right now and I don’t want to bring this up again. But I was very close to three different situations that didn’t work out. There are only 30 NBA coaches in the world, sometimes that happens. I’m very happy in my current situation.