Second place is a set of steak knives. Third place is you’re fired, Coach Blatt.

Can we pump the brakes on the whole Woe is David Blatt sentimentality?

Every time a coach who we think gets a raw deal gets canned, we’re quick to throw out arbitrary statistics, how many games he won and how was such a great guy.

Put a cork in it, Zane.

set of steak knives

There’s this famous scene in GlenGarry Glen Ross.  You know the ‘Always Be Closing” scene that put Alec Baldwin on the map.  In it, he says “Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you — go home and play with your kids!! You wanna work here? Close!!”

Apparently Blatt never got that memo.

In the history of coaching, no coach who has won a title has ever been fired immediately thereafter.  No coach that managed to get the best out of his team has ever been stripped of his duties.  And in the NBA, no coach who deeply connected with his superstar athlete has ever been shown the front door.

David Blatt did none of those things.  That’s why he’s currently unemployed.

Let’s step into our time machine and travel back about 18 months or so.

The Cavaliers were still in the rut in which the southbound LeBron James had left them.  They were only starting to recover.  They named a relative unknown, David Blatt, as their head coach.  Cut from the Mike D’Antoni cloth, and by that I mean an offensive-minded coach with experience overseas, Blatt was hired to mix things up a bit, breath some fresh air into the franchise that desperately needed it and take one giant or at least well-intended step away from the past.

At that point, the franchise had no idea LeBron James might be returning to Cleveland.  If they had, they most likely would not have hired Blatt in the first place, which in retrospect was major miscommunication on Cleveland’s behalf.  But what else should we expect from that franchise?


LeBron returned to Cleveland somewhat surprisingly and in his first year back, the Cavs had what should be considered by most a successful season.  They made it all the way to the Finals only to lose to the Golden State Warriors.  There were rumors and rumblings all season long about the nature of LeBron’s and Blatt’s relationship and who was really coaching the team.  After all, let’s not kid ourselves.  LeBron must be a bear to coach.  Phil Jackson coached and won championships with egos like Kobe’s and Michael’s.  Erik Spoelstra did the same with LeBron in Miami.  But in many respects, LeBron had taken a backseat to Dwyane Wade during those years.  In his second stint in Cleveland, LeBron is the alpha dog.  Blatt couldn’t handle that or… at least he couldn’t close with it.

Let’s be clear.  Blatt had a winning record in the NBA.  That’s kind of hard not to do with LeBron as your go to guy.  Cleveland currently has the best record in the East.  They are 30-11.  But as I wrote less than 24 hours before Blatt’s dismissal, you cannot lose a game on your home court in prime time by thirty points to the team that just beat you in the Finals.  You must show progress.  The Warriors have progressed.  The Cavs have not.

It became painfully evident that night these Cavs, as currently comprised, would get run out of the building by the Warriors in the Finals and that is something that ownership clearly could not stand for.  So he was fired.  Blatt may be a perfectly competent coach, just not for these Cavaliers.

Even though LeBron is now telling us he was surprised by the move, believe what you want.  Blatt wasn’t the first coach to get the boot because he couldn’t get along with his superstar and he won’t be the last.  Blatt made almost ten million dollars coaching those Cavaliers.  And he won basketball games, just not important ones.  That’s why he got fired.


So excuse me if I don’t play violins for the guy.  If he’s smart, which he must be if he finagled a four-year, $20 million contract out of the Cavaliers with zero NBA coaching experience, he’ll make the most out of his crash course in the NBA.  In his next go-round, he might take from this experience, shed the whole deer in the headlights thing and learn how to manage egos, which is just as important as managing x’s and o’s in this day and age of professional sports.

That’s kind of how this whole thing works.  Plenty of coaches better than him have been fired for reasons less prevalent.  And plenty of coaches less qualified than him have kept their jobs.  There is no rhyme or reason to any of it until that reason is you not living up to expectations.

If you don’t do your job, you get fired, right?  David Blatt didn’t do his either and that is why he’s currently looking for work.

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10 Replies to “Second place is a set of steak knives. Third place is you’re fired, Coach Blatt.”

  1. Blatt’s firing had more to do with his pi#sing off LBJ . And who in their right mind hires a coach whose resume reads coached basketball in Europe ?

    Dan Gilbert and Cavs’ GM David Griffin are frigging morons . The Cavaliers might have the best record in the Eastern Conference but they are not playing like the best team in that conference. They would have a hard time taking down the Warriors , Spurs or Thunder in a seven-game series.

    It’s now time for Adam Silver to meet with Sixers’ front office and ask them what their long-term ambitions are. Is it to continue sucking or just making the league look putrid ? They are now doing both with the minimum of effort. Bad for the league and the fans of the game.

  2. I believe I’m in agreement with everything you have here. Obviously, Blatt was hired to bring in some discipline and mentor developing players. Next thing you know LeBron shows up. At that moment in time Blatt should have been gone. I mean, would it have been that much stranger than other stuff we’ve seen in sports recently? We know the NBA is run by the players. I’m not sure why they thought he was a good fit in the first place but whatever…you cut your losses and let LeBron pick who he wants to have as a coach. It truly is hysterical to see a team that has the record they have this year and could have easily gone up on the Warriors in the Finals had Irving not gone down last year saying they “had to make a change.” Yet, you don’t hear anything concrete about why and no one seems to acknowledge the awkwardness of it all. I don’t feel sorry for Blatt because, as I said in my last comment, he seemed like he wasn’t quite “of this world” anyway. He’s richer for the experience in the wallet and on the resume so best of luck David. As for LeBron, I spent most of his time in Miami defending him and praising his style on and off the court aside from the “Decision” of course…but now, with this…I’m almost back to wondering about him again. That franchise is so bizarre. It was pretty funny to see them lose Lue first’s game on Saturday night…at home…getting booed. Wow. Just. Wow.

  3. David Griffin is about as clueless as Blake Griffin, Al.

    I listened to that guy’s press conference about the whole ordeal and was not impressed.

    I don’t know who these people are trying to kid. Either he did consult LeBron and is lying to us or he didn’t consult LeBron and should have.

    I’m not entirely surprised at the outpouring of support that’s come from the other coaches. They’re a fraternity. That’s what they do. But in this day and age, they should also understand that if they don’t get the results required, they’re going to get fired.

    That’s pretty much true in any profession, isn’t it?

  4. Burnsy…

    Even though he was criticized as well, at least Erik Spoelstra had a little street cred because Pat Riley had his back. There is no Pat Riley in Cleveland. Clearly. That’s why that organization is such a clusterfuck.

    So if Lue takes them to the Finals and loses, then what? Does he get canned or do they stay with him?

    I’m not convinced he’s the answer. I’m not entirely sure why they are either.

    I’ll give him this though. At least Lue knows that it’s now win or bust. How could he not?

  5. Yes, I will give credit to Lue he knows if they don’t win he’s over and out. Saw again today James is denying he’s ever undermined a coach. Get LeBron the definition for undermined. Stat.

  6. Apparently Riley came out and said LBJ never asked for Spo’s head.

    And Lue can know that all he wants. But if he doesn’t get results this year, what sort of leash will he be on next year?

    I still think they should have gone after Mark Jackson.

  7. Yet another former Laker becomes a head coach.

    Who knew the little guy with cornrows that Iverson stepped over in that oh-so-infamous NBA Finals clip would one day be giving orders to LBJ?

    Luke will be next ex-Laker to become an NBA head coach.

  8. Bleed…

    The way the Warriors are playing, it might not matter who becomes the coach of what team. They’re going to be around for a while.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this team eventually disbands.

    And I agree with you on Walton. After the start they had under his watch, I wouldn’t be surprised is someone throws a whole bunch of money at him.

    Should be only a matter of time actually.

  9. Nothing could be finer than the entire LeBoner episode ending in Cleveland with his making the playoffs every year, making the Finals every other year and LOSING every time without getting another ring.

    THAT would serve him right.

    Also rather fits the Cleveland M.O.

  10. Don’t you almost feel bad for Cleveland though, Tree?

    Either way, in this day and age, Bron Bron better land some talent because NOBODY is beating the Warriors any time soon.

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