The Israeli American David Blatt has just signed on to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The head coach of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv professional basketball team David Blatt will be the next head coach of America’s National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers. He has reportedly signed a four year $20 million contract with an option for a fifth year. The team made the announcement on Friday.
Maccabi won the European professional basketball league’s champions tournament this year in an upset victory over the Spanish champions Real Madrid. The respective champions of the previous season from each participating nation take part in the tournament each year.
The hiring of Blatt makes him the first coach of a team in the Euroleague to become an NBA head coach.
Blatt will be formally introduced by the Cavaliers at a press conference on Wednesday. He was reportedly chosen over Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Tyronn Lue. The decision may have been rushed when it became known that Blatt was also interviewing for an assistant coaching job with the league’s Golden State Warriors.
Under head coach Blatt for the last six seasons, from 2008-2014, Macabbi won six Israeli Cup Championships and five Israeli League Championships. Blatt also led the team to its best ever record of 70-13 in the 2011-12 season.
In a public statement the Cavaliers’ general manager David Griffin said of the hiring, “David is a great basketball coach and a special person. His abilities to communicate, to build relationships with his players and to foster winning environments at several stops throughout Europe and across the highest levels of International competition speaks for itself.
“He brings unbridled passion, energy and creativity to his craft. These qualities have enabled David to reach a level of success that is truly unique. I have watched David’s work for many years. He has an uncanny ability to adapt his system to maximize the talents of his teams year after year. That is why I am very confident he will make a smooth transition to the NBA.”
The team’s majority owner Dan Gilbert added, “David Blatt is going to bring some of the most innovative approaches found in professional basketball anywhere on the globe. Time and time again, from Russia to Israel and several other prominent head coaching jobs in between, David has done one thing: ‘win’. He is not only an innovator, well-trained and focused on both sides of the court, but he is always learning and always teaching.”
Blatt himself said in a statement, “I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to come to Cleveland and lead the Cavaliers as their head coach. After spending a great deal of time discussing the organization, the team and the head coach’s role with David Griffin, I feel strongly about my fit for the job and this team’s potential. This is an opportune time to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. We are going to work extremely hard to achieve the kind of results we all expect and know are possible.”
David Blatt, 55, is an American born Israeli originally from Massachusetts. He attended Princeton where he played as a point guard for the school’s basketball team. While he did not make it to the NBA himself, Blatt played professionally for teams in Europe from 1981-1993, mostly in Israel.
His coaching career has also mostly been in Israel. However, Blatt had shorts stints in Italy, Russia and Turkey and even coached the Russian national team.