By Zac Piesse.
The firing of David Blatt had been writing on the Cleveland Cavaliers wall for a while. Despite it being one of the greatest injustices in professional basketball, that a coach leading the leading Eastern Conference team (30-11) to get fired. It all came to head against the Golden State Warriors a couple of days ago. Lebron James had just experienced his worst ever loss in his career (132-98), and was understandably livid. To lose in a nationally televised game so badly, had Lebron fired up. He undermined the Head coach, David Blatt and stole his chair and sat in it. Then telling the team his thoughts and the issues that he had with the team at that point in time, as if he was the head coach.
After undermining Blatt’s authority, he then sat on the bench next to then assistant coach Tyron Lue, and continued his rant, this time just to the assistant. In that moment there, the media speculation began to run in overdrive. The reports seemed ludicrous to begin with, but as time progressed they became more and more legitimised, with report upon report about how there is serious unrest within the Cavs camp. Then as quickly as a Cleveland fast break with Lebron James on the end of it, David Blatt was fired.
Many experienced coaches around the league have spoken out about their feelings behind this firing, and why they believe it shouldn’t have taken place. Veteran coach Rick Carlisle let his emotions out in an interview overnight, “I’m embarrassed for the league that something like this can happen. It’s just bizarre… It leaves you with an empty feeling. Blatt’s a great guy, and he did a great job there.” Gregg Popovich, is a man who usually chooses to talk as little as possible to the media, let his feelings be known to the media in a interview. “The circumstances can sometimes dictate what goes on, often it’s got nothing to do with their ability.” Doc Rivers then followed on from Popovich, saying “it’s one of the worlds most scrutinised jobs. How you can be fired from the no. 1 spot in the East. I don’t know… I’m really happy for Ty (Lue, the new head coach), but not in these circumstances.”
In another turn of events, Lue has been quoted in a recent media interview overnight, when asked about what he will do different to Blatt… “I wouldn’t say ‘differently’, I would just say ‘better'”. This is an unbelievably arrogant statement. To throw your former co-employee, and boss under the bus like that, just shows how cutthroat NBA coaching can be. Or, it just shows how desperate the Cavs are for a title. Either way, out of respect for Blatt and given the bizarre circumstances, Ty Lue will be on a short leash, and under an unbelievable amount of pressure for a first time head coach. But given the roster he has at his disposal, I think he will be okay.
Another aspect of the firing is Lebron James. He was recently quoted by espn.com, “I found out about it like any other Cleveland player…” I find this incredibly hard to believe that the best player in the world (arguably) did not give his tick of approval before GM, David Griffin kicked Blatt to the curb. Lebron knows how to play the game (of politics), and I’m sure he would have been consulted on who would take over as head coach. It just so happened that he already had a buddying relationship with then assistant, now head coach Lue.
In the coming weeks it’ll be interesting to see if the wheels keep rolling, or all the momentum that the Cavs had will end. It might lead to a team like Toronto, or the Bulls to be able to catch the Cavs given this dismay caused, whilst the Cavs find their feet under their new head coach. Come playoffs I’m sure the Cavs will be ready, and Lebron alone will take them to the Eastern Conference finals, but from there, it’s anyone’s game. Anything can happen in NBA Playoff basketball.