What else was he going to say?
With the NBA Finals starting in a few days, LeBron James doesn’t want his relationship with his coach to be a distracting headline, so no matter how he really feels he’s going to stick up for his coach. And give him very conspicuously give him a hug on the sidelines late in the Game 4 sweep of Atlanta.
Monday at media availability, LeBron was again complimenting and sticking up for his coach, as reported by James Herbert of CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball.
“Well, any time someone is scrutinized really for nothing, I’m able to relate,” James said. “For him in his instance, obviously, we knew there were a lot of people that were going to say things that didn’t mean much, but that’s just what they have to do. That’s what helps sales.
“People love reading the negative things more than the positive things, and I think he’s handled the situation unbelievably,” he continued. “Being a rookie coach in the NBA and being able to take this team to the Finals, I think he’s done a hell of a job.”
LeBron is polished and incredibly conscious of what he says to the media — and through all the praise he has twice thrown his coach under the bus in these playoffs. When LeBron called his own number and changed the play call against the Bulls, it was LeBron who brought that up and told the media. He could have said nothing and nobody would have known outside the locker room, but he chose to make that statement. The same way he chose to question the defensive matchups Blatt had assigned earlier in the playoffs.
Two points need to be made here.
First, if LeBron wants David Blatt gone he will be gone — and people close to the Cavaliers are not sure what LeBron wants to that end.
Second, Blatt has done a good job and deserves to stay on. When you think about the role players stepping up on this team with Kevin Love out and Kyrie Irving down, some of that credit goes to Blatt for getting them in the right situation. It was Blatt who had the guts to go with James Jones over more expensive players these playoffs (hello Mike Miller!) and it has worked out. It was Blatt and the Cavs defensive schemes that dared cold Hawks shooters (Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and so on) to beat them from three, daring Atlanta to replicate their regular season success under more pressure.
Blatt deserves to stay on. Whether he will or not, LeBron will do nothing but praise him during the Finals.