BY JOHN McALEAVEY | This past Friday, Cleveland Cavaliers head basketball coach, David Blatt, was fired for what Cavs General Manager, David Griffin, called “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision”.
Hunh, what? Let me see if I can help you read between the lines here. What he meant to say is, Coach Blatt went splat, because of “a lack of fit with LeBron James and our vision.” If this GM thing doesn’t work out in the end for Griffin, perhaps he could try professional gymnastics, because he did some serious bending over backwards to absolve King James of any culpability in this transaction. Does anyone really believe that no players, most notably Akron’s own, were consulted before this decision was made? Cleveland is a city that has not won a major championship of any kind since 1964, and the Cavalier franchise that pined for their hometown hero to come back and deliver one for them, didn’t ask for his input? Bologna!!! What makes this move all the more confusing is that the Cavaliers record as of the ouster was 30-11! Don’t forget, this is a year after going 53-29, winning the Central Division and finishing second in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, Blatt’s team swept Boston 4-0, beat Chicago 4-2, swept Atlanta 4-0, and lost to Golden State 4-2 in the NBA Finals despite playing without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (injured his knee in game 1). I ask you, does this situation scream coaching change? Me neither. Well, Tyronn Lue is now the head man in Cleveland. I wonder if ownership got the “King’s” opinion regarding his new subject, I mean head coach, before naming him? I will answer my own question – yes!
The first name that came to my mind when I had heard of Blatt’s firing was Paul Westhead. I was twelve years-old in 1980, but was already a rabid basketball fan. I knew that the Los Angeles Lakers had a dynamic young point guard that was lighting up television sets with dazzling passes and giant smiles. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and his Lakers won an NBA Championship in 1980, under the tutelage of head coach, Westhead, who was in his first year on the bench in LA. Unfortunately, year two did not go so well (they lost in the first round of the playoffs), and by early year three, the honeymoon between star player and head coach was over. Rumors had it that Johnson didn’t like the way his coach spoke to him, and so he went to the press demanding a trade. Once that news went public, it was a mere days before Westhead was shown the door, and the “Showtime” Lakers were born. Team owner Jerry Buss, claimed that his all-everything point guard had nothing to do with the ouster, and that he was actually going to fire Westhead prior to the trade demands…yeah right Jerry! Bottom line was, Magic wanted him to disappear and be replaced with his guy, Pat Riley. Abracadabra (magically) it was done and “Riles” took the reigns. At first Magic took a lot of heat, but the team took off, and their tremendous results speak for themselves.
Superstar players will always come out on top in power struggles with their coaches, it is just how business is done in professional sports (especially the NBA). What LeBron did is really no different from what Magic, or Michael Jordan, who engineered Doug Collins being thrown under the bus, did. Of course It is not fair, but neither is life in many respects. I just hope King James’s new coach fairs as well as those hand-picked by Magic and Michael (Phil Jackson) back in the day.
And that is My 2 Sense for this week.