David Blatt has had to take the long route to fulfill his dream of being an NBA head coach, but the Boston born tactician made the journey and has reached his destination. The Cleveland Cavaliers broke with normal convention and sourced outside the US for its next head coach, and serial winner Blatt was the perfect candidate. The franchise turned the US upside down, considering college coaches on the rise, established NBA leaders, and promising assistants, but it seems the answer to the problem was a coach sweeping it all in Europe.
55-year old Blatt is coming off the back of “one of those seasons” with Maccabi Tel Aviv. It has been the kind of campaign that boosts a CV and bothers the history books, with the Israeli powerhouse taking a domestic league and cup double, while also tasting title success in the Euroleague. Winning the biggest club competition outside of the NBA was the deciding factor for the Cav’s, but the franchise may well have sought Blatt’s services regardless. It is thought that his decision to resign from Tel Aviv piqued interest from Cleveland, with other NBA franchises sniffing for his services.
If David Blatt’s career in Europe could be charted, it would be the kind where the line consistently goes up, such has been his rise. Five consecutive league wins and a Euroleague as an assistant coach with Tel Aviv led to title a winning turn for Italian club Treviso, the Italian Cup, and the Eurocup with St. Petersburg. That success brought the American-Israeli back to Maccabi Tel Aviv where he won three leagues, five cups, and of course the Euroleague. In-between that Blatt found the time to lead the Russian national team to the Eurobasket 2007 title and to bronze at the 2012 Olympic Games.
All that makes Blatt among the most successful American coaches in European Basketball history, while it is a CV that is also good enough to make him the first European based coach to make the switch to the NBA. Blatt replaces Mike Brown in the Cavaliers hot seat and will bring to the franchise a reputation for getting the most from players who may not exactly be considered a strong unit. That will suit a Cleveland team that has failed to reach the Play-Offs in the last four seasons, while Blatt’s respected offensive nous will aid the team through the coming campaign.
So, while Blatt has taken an unconventional path to the NBA, he arrives with perhaps the most Basketball variety in the league; after-all the cauldron of European Basketball is quite unlike anything that the hustle and bustle of the US game boast.