Cavaliers head coach David Blatt may be new to the NBA, but he has plenty of experience coaching at the professional level that was garnered through years of successfully running European teams.
While the finer points may be different, Blatt knows when it’s time to take control, and rip his team for a subpar performance. And that’s exactly what he did after Cleveland’s embarrassing effort on opening night that saw the Cavaliers lose to the New York Knicks.
In lieu of putting the Cavs through a shootaround before the tail end of their back-to-back, the longtime European coach called a meeting at the team hotel and put them in their place instead of putting them through their paces.
“You all are such nice people, I’m so happy you weren’t in the morning meeting today because your opinion of me might be vastly different right now,” Blatt told the media after the Cavs beat the Chicago Bulls 114-108 in overtime Friday. “But we cleaned some things up, and the guys responded beautifully and we played a great game.” …
“He just got on us,” James said when asked about Blatt’s message. “He got on us from the time we started our meeting to the time we left. And it’s great. For a team like us, we need that. I love constructive criticism. I never took it personal. It’s just an opportunity for us to get better, and it definitely put a fire into us.”
The Cavaliers bounced back in a big way, earning a hard-fought overtime victory against the much-better Bulls in Chicago the very next night.
The important thing here is that LeBron James is completely on board in the early stages of this relationship. James is unquestionably the game’s best player, and the amount of power he wields within the Cavaliers organization simply cannot be understated.
Blatt has some learning to do at the NBA level, as evidenced by the rotations he chose to use during his team’s first two contests. As long as James has his back throughout the process, however, the transition should ultimately be a smooth one, and Blatt will be given a fairly long leash if his methods achieve the desired results.