The NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers routed Maccabi Tel Aviv in an international exhibition game that pitted Cavs’ new coach David Blatt against his former team.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, the 2014 Euroleague and Israel Super Basketball League champions lost Sunday’s game 107-80.
The exhibition game had been scheduled long before Blatt signed on as Cavs’ coach in June.
The game also saw the return to a Cleveland uniform of LeBron James, who returned to his hometown Cavaliers as a free agent after spending four seasons with the Miami Heat. James, whose back has been bothering him, played the first half, scoring 12 points.
Blatt told reporters after the game that ”I was nervous before the game, but not because it was the first time I coached in the NBA. I was playing against my friends.”
More than a dozen of the credentialed reporters were from Israel, including the major newspapers and television stations, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. Blatt conducted a second news conference in Hebrew for the Israeli media following the game.
The game was also billed as Jewish Community Night.
About 50 pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated outside of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena before the game, over comments Blatt made to an Israeli newspaper in the summer in support of Israel’s military operation in Gaza.