David Blatt coached Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel before becoming the Cavaliers’ head coach. He is American-born and Jewish. He also holds dual-citizenship in the United States and Israel, and while he is here coaching his family has remained in Israel.
There, I think we established most of Blatt’s relevant biases up front.
Blatt recently gave his opinion on the conflict in Israel. Blatt, in a Q&A with Yoav Borovitch of Globes, an Israeli publication:
Do you support the operation?
“Absolutely. In my opinion, this war is Israel’s most justified war I can remember in recent years. I’m really sorry about what’s happening in Gaza, but there’s no doubt that we had to act there, so that Israel will have quiet there once and for all, and we can live in peace.”
Do you feel support for Israel in the US?
“There’s support, although sometimes it’s not enough. In my opinion, though, there’s more support this time than before.”
Many people want professional athletes and coaches to use their platforms for political purposes. Michael Jordan received a lot of criticism for his “Republicans buy sneakers, too” quote (which he might never have said).
But for those who want their sports figures to delve into politics, there’s typically a subtext to the desire – only when the athlete or coach takes the popular stance. Athletes like Muhammad Ali have seen their reputation enhanced over time as their political views have become more accepted. During his career, Ali was not viewed nearly as favorably.
In that reality, Blatt puts himself squarely on the line.
Opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in the United States and abroad, is divided. Blatt will gain supporters and enemies with his quote.
Maybe Blatt is too close to the situation. Maybe he’s too far removed.
Maybe his perspective is better than ours. Maybe it’s worse.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s wrong.
Regardless, Blatt is putting himself out there in a way few NBA coaches do.