The Eastern Semifinals Game 5 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls is a pivotal game for both teams – but it might be the biggest for Cleveland’s Jewish coach David Blatt.
Blatt, the American-Israeli former coach of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv team, is taking heat for the way he handled the end of game 4, which his team stole on an improbable buzzer-beater shot from Lebron James. First, Blatt tried to call a timeout with a few seconds left, even though he was out of them (which would have resulted in technical foul shots and likely the game if the referees had noticed). Then he drew up a play that had Lebron James – one of the best players in the history of the game – throwing the ball in instead of taking the final shot.
“To be honest, the play that was drawn up, I scratched it,” James said after the game. “I just told coach, ‘Just give me the ball. We either going to go into overtime or I’ma win it for us.’ It was that simple.”
Rookie Cleveland Cavaliers Coach David Blatt won a European title with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Now he gets to coach Lebron James. Getty Images
One year ago, David Blatt was working with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s management on signing new players for the upcoming season. A year later, Blatt is coaching the best basketball player on the planet — LeBron James.
After spending nearly a decade at the heralded Israeli club, Blatt was recently hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is the first Israeli to ever coach a team in the NBA.
When Blatt signed the contract with the Cavs, he knew that they were heavily pursuing James, but he also knew there was no guarantee. Even if the Cavs didn’t sign James, Blatt would still be happy, given how hard he has worked to reach the NBA.
After James announced he was returning to Cleveland, Blatt realized how quickly things had changed since he signed his contract.
Suddenly the Cavilers are expected to make the playoffs, as they have all-star Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, who was the number one pick in this year’s NBA draft, and the king himself, LeBron James.
The question now is, will David Blatt live up to the pressure?
To find out, the Forward spoke with David Pick, a senior Correspondent for Eurobasket.com. Pick is currently in Las Vegas, covering the NBA summer league.
We asked Pick about what we should expect from Blatt in his first season in charge and if Blatt would be able to transform his coaching style from European basketball to an NBA style. Pick spent the season as a beat writer for Maccabi Tel Aviv and developed a relationship with Blatt on and off the court.
Raphael Gellar: When the season ends, do you think the Cavs will have had a successful season under David Blatt?
LeBron James does not — we repeat, does not — think Jews “suck” at basketball.
The Shmooze can report this happy piece of news after the NBA star’s latest difficult episode in Cleveland, where his jersey was burned last year following his highly publicized defection from the local Cavaliers to the Miami Heat.
An Akron native, James played basketball last week at his Cleveland’s Mandel Jewish Community Center (of all places!) after a spot opened up on his friends’ basketball team. Initial reports suggested the JCC game went well for the 26-year-old, whose team won by 10 points. “So funny but good run,” James later tweeted.
Maybe Jimmy Kimmel thought all rabbis look alike.
Reuters reported last week that ABC’s late-night funnyman has been hit with a lawsuit by a Brooklyn Jew whose likeness Kimmel featured in a “Jimmy Kimmel Live” parody video. In a sketch that aired in August, Kimmel spoofed a visit that basketball superstar LeBron James had made to so-called “rabbi to the stars” Yishayahu Yosef Pinto. In the segment, “Kimmel told viewers that he too had met with the rabbi, and then showed a video edited to make it seem that Kimmel was listening to an Orthodox Jew blathering incoherently in Yiddish,” according to Gothamist.com. But the punim in the video actually belonged to one Dovid Sandek of Borough Park — also known as “the flying Rabbi,” Gothamist said, “though he’s not technically a rabbi.”
In the wake of his much-maligned primetime special announcing his move to the Miami Heat, is hoops superstar LeBron James desperate for some good advice?
“Whoever this rabbi is or isn’t, he can’t possibly give worse advice than his handlers have given him,” said Bissinger, who co-authored a biography titled “Shooting Stars” with the player. “The Decision,” James’ hour-long announcement aired on ESPN on July 8 to near-unanimous derision.
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