David Blatt

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David Blatt
David Blatt Cavs 2014.jpg
Blatt with the Cavaliers in October 2014.
Cleveland Cavaliers
Position Head coach
League NBA
Personal information
Born (1959-05-22) May 22, 1959 (age 56)
Boston, Massachusetts
Nationality American / Israeli
Listed height 6 ft 3.5 in (1.92 m)
Career information
High school Framingham South
(Framingham, Massachusetts)
College Princeton (1977–1981)
NBA draft 1981 / Undrafted
Pro career 1981–1993
Position Point guard
Coaching career 1993–present
Career history
As player:
1981–1984 Maccabi Haifa (Israel)
1984–1986 Atlanta Pro-Am League
1986–1987 Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel)
1987–1989 Maccabi Netanya (Israel)
1989–1990 Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel)
1990–1991 Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel)
1991–1992 Ironi Nahariya (Israel)
1992–1993 Maccabi Hadera (Israel)
As coach:
1993–1994 Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel)
1994–1995 Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel) (assistant)
1995–1999 Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel)
1996–1997 Israel Under-22 (assistant)
1997–2001 Israel (assistant)
1999–2001 Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) (assistant)
2001–2003 Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
2003–2004 Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel) (assistant)
2004–2005 Israel
2004–2005 Dynamo St. Petersburg (Russia)
2005–2007 Benetton Treviso (Italy)
2006–2012 Russia
2007–2008 Efes Pilsen (Turkey)
2008–2009 Dynamo Moscow (Russia)
2010 Aris Thessaloniki (Greece)
2010–2014 Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
2014–present Cleveland Cavaliers
Career highlights and awards
As coach

David Michael Blatt (born May 22, 1959) is an Israeli-American professional basketball coach, and a former professional basketball player. He is the current head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Blatt played point guard at Princeton University from 1977 to 1981, and played in the Maccabiah Games for the USA national team that won a gold medal in 1981. He then played professional basketball in Israel for nine of the next 12 years, before an injury ended his playing career and he began coaching full-time.

He is one of the most successful American coaches in European basketball history. As a coach, Blatt has been the Israeli League Coach of the Year four times (1996, 2002, 2011, and 2014), the Russian Super League Coach of the Year (2005), and the Euroleague Coach of the Year (2014). Blatt took over as Cleveland's head coach in 2014, and his lifetime .639 winning percentage after the 2014–15 season was the best of any Cavaliers head coach in team history.


Blatt grew up in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is Jewish.[1][2] As a boy, he went to a Reform temple, and until his bar mitzvah he attended Hebrew school twice a week.[1] He says that in Israel he became "much more Jewish and much more Zionist."[1]

In his sophomore year at Princeton, a coach for an Israeli kibbutz team recruited him to play in Israel for the summer.[3] The summer at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel turned out to be a life-changing experience.[4] Blatt graduated from Princeton in 1981 with a B.A. in English literature, completing his senior thesis on Bernard Malamud, author of The Natural.[5]

In 1981 he immigrated to Israel, and served in the Israel Defense Forces on the Schneller military base.[1][6] In 1991 Blatt married Kinneret, from Netanya, Israel; she had played on an Israeli professional basketball team that he coached.[4][7] They have four children: twin daughters Shani and Adi (who have served in the Israeli army), daughter Ela (his youngest child), and son Tamir (born in 1997; in 2014 he was the starting point guard on the Israeli junior national basketball team, and had signed to play for four years with Hapoel Tel Aviv).[2][4][7][8][9][10]

Playing career[edit]

He played high school basketball at Framingham South High School, where he was also high school class president.[2][4]

Blatt, a point guard, played college basketball at Princeton University from 1977 to 1981 under coach Pete Carril with the Princeton Tigers, for whom he was team captain.[11] He also participated in the Maccabiah Games as part of the USA national team that won a gold medal in 1981.[3] After competing in the Maccabiah, Blatt began to play professional basketball in Israel's Super League, and played 9 of the next 12 years in Israel before an injury ended his playing career and he started his coaching career full-time.[2][12]

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring from basketball as a player, Blatt became assistant manager for Hapoel Galil Elyon, coaching them for the 1993–94 season. In the middle of the season, the head coach was fired and Blatt took his place. The following year he became Pini Gershon's assistant for the 1994–95 season. The next year he won the title of Israeli "Coach of the Year" for 1996. In 1997 he continued coaching Hapoel Galil Elyon, while also becoming the assistant coach of the Israeli National Team.

Blatt returned to coach Galil Elyon, and remained assistant manager of the Israeli National Team for the next two years (1997–99).

For the 1999–2000 season, he moved to Maccabi Tel Aviv, and once again served as assistant manager to Pini Gershon. During that season, his team took part in the Israeli League and Israeli Cup (winning both), and also in the Euroleague, where Maccabi finished in 2nd place.

In the years between 2000–04, he continued as assistant coach under Pini Gershon and actively recruited foreign players such as Anthony Parker (in 2000) and Maceo Baston to the team. During those four years, Maccabi won one Euroleague title, reached the Euroleague Final Four (2001–02 season), and reached the final stage of the Adriatic League. Maccabi won the SuproLeague title in 2001 in Paris. Blatt was still working as assistant coach of the Israeli National Team in 2002, when he won the title of Israeli "Coach of the Year" for the second time, the year he was appointed head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Despite two years as head coach with all possible domestic titles and one Euroleague Final Four appearance, for the 2003–04 season, he agreed to be demoted to assistant coach once again when Pini Gershon came back to the head coach position. Together they led one of the best teams in Maccabi Tel Aviv history, and the history of European basketball, to another Euroleague title with a 44-point win in the final, as well as to the Israeli Championship and the Israeli Cup.

In 2004, he moved to Russia and signed on as head coach with Dynamo Saint Petersburg. During that year, he won the FIBA EuroCup championship with Dynamo and also the title of "Coach of the Year in Russia" (2004–05 season).

For the 2005–06 season, he signed on as head coach of the Israeli national basketball team, but his appointment fell through due to the lack of a formal coaching certificate. He left Israel to become head coach of Benetton Treviso of the Italian League, and subsequently led them to the Italian Championship with a 3–1 victory in the final series of the Italian playoffs. In the same year, he was also appointed the head coach of the Russian national basketball team.

At the beginning of 2007–08 season, Blatt was appointed as a head coach of the Istanbul-based Turkish Basketball League team Efes Pilsen. However, on April 6, 2008, he parted ways with the team due to poor results over the season.[13] Blatt has also coached the Russian national basketball team, with which he won the EuroBasket 2007 in a final game against the reigning world champions and home team of Spain, by a score of 60–59.[14][15]

In 2008, with Ettore Messina announcing that he would leave CSKA Moscow, Blatt was considered to be the favorite to replace him, but Messina eventually stayed on as CSKA's coach and Blatt agreed to the offer to become the head coach of Dynamo Moscow instead.[16] Although under contract for two seasons, he parted ways with the team, after requesting that from team in order to pursue his career elsewhere.[17] In early 2010, Blatt served a stint as the head coach of the Greek League club Aris Thessaloniki, before moving on to coach Maccabi Tel Aviv once again.[18] Blatt led the Russian national team to a bronze medal during the 2012 London Olympics.

In 2014, Blatt led Maccabi Tel Aviv to one of the greatest comebacks against CSKA Moscow in the Euroleague semifinal game, proceeding to win the championship after beating Real Madrid in overtime.[19] In June, after his contract ended, Blatt officially parted ways with the club in order to seek an NBA coaching position.[20] Over four years as Maccabi head coach, he compiled a 225–55 record.[12]

On June 20, 2014, Blatt was hired to be the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.[21] Following his signing with the Cavaliers, Blatt was named the Euroleague Coach of the Year.[22]

On April 1, 2015, Blatt earned his first Eastern Conference Coach of the Month award.[23] The Cavaliers led the Eastern Conference in March in points-per-game (107.0), points-per-game differential (9.1), field goal percentage (.469), three-point field goal percentage (.399) and three-pointers made per game (12.3). The Cavaliers were also a perfect 5–0 at home and were tied for the most road wins in the East at 6–4. The month also saw the Cavaliers extend their winning streak at Quicken Loans Arena to 16 games (Jan 19 – March 29), which tied for the third-longest home streak in franchise history. Over the season, the Cavaliers lead the Central Division with a 53–29 mark, and Blatt's lifetime .639 winning percentage after the 2014–15 season was the best of any Cavaliers coach in team history.[24]

In Blatt's first season, the Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference title, their first since 2007.[25] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Blatt to congratulate him for bringing the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals.[26][27] While there have been other rookie head coaches who have reached the NBA finals in the past, Blatt and rival coach Steve Kerr are the first pair of rookie NBA coaches to face each other in the NBA Finals since the first year of the NBA's existence, in 1947.[28] The Cavaliers eventually lost 4–2 in the Finals.[29]

Coaching record[edit]

Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
Cleveland 2014–15 82 53 29 .646 1st in Central 20 14 6 .700 Lost in NBA Finals
Career 82 53 29 .646 20 14 6 .700

Awards and honors[edit]

  • 2007 Eurobasket champion
  • 2012 Olympic Bronze Medal winner
  • 2014 Euroleague Champion
  • 2014 Euroleague Coach of the Year
  • 2014 Order of Friendship Award winner
  • 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Coach of the Month for March
  • 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Central Division Champions
  • 2015 NBA Eastern Conference Champion

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Raskin, Niv (June 17, 2011). "Basketball/ Blatt: 'Here I became more Jewish and more Zionist'; Maccabi Tel Aviv coach discusses his immigrant experience.". Haaretz. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved August 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d Lenny Megliola (June 26, 2014). "David Blatt: From Framingham to coach of NBA’s Cavaliers". Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ a b Anthony Weiss (June 19, 2014). "David Blatt riding Tel Aviv’s Euro title to NBA dream job". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 
  4. ^ a b c d Bradley Burston (July 18, 2013). "Achilles' heal: The fall and rise of basketball legend David Blatt". Haaretz. 
  5. ^ Zach Lowe (July 16, 2014). "Q&A: Cavs Coach David Blatt on LeBron, Princeton, and ‘The Natural’". Grantland. 
  6. ^ "David Blatt’s Maccabiah Experience Influenced His Life Decisions", Maccabi USA (Fall 2014)
  7. ^ a b Luca Sgamellotti. "Can David Blatt guide the LeBron James, Cavaliers to promise land? – NBA". Sports Illustrated. 
  8. ^ Mark Murphy. "When NBA called, David Blatt turned to his friends". Boston Herald. 
  9. ^ Irad Tsafrir (September 1, 2014). "David Blatt talks LeBron, transition to NBA". Haaretz. 
  10. ^ "Five young players to watch: Blatt, Dibba, Svoboda, Kesteloot, Goloman". Sportando. October 6, 2014. 
  11. ^ Bob Jacob (April 15, 2015). "Jewish coach David Blatt has NBA’s Cavaliers surging at playoff time". JNS.org. 
  12. ^ a b Steve Aschburner (October 31, 2014). "Lessons learned in Europe coming to Cleveland sideline". NBA.com. 
  13. ^ "Efes Pilsen, head coach David Blatt split up". euroleague.net. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  14. ^ In his first year on the job, head coach David Blatt reinstates Russia as a European basketball powerhouse at the Wayback Machine (archived October 11, 2007). Moscow News Weekly
  15. ^ "David Blatt Profile at Eurobasket". Eurobasket.com. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Dinamo Moscow inks David Blatt". Dynamobasket.com. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "David Blatt will not return to Dynamo Moscow in 2009–10". sportando.net. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Aris makes David Blatt head coach". Eurocupbasketball.com. January 15, 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is the new king of Europe!". euroleague.net. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Blatt Leaving Maccabi for the NBA". maccabi.co.il. Retrieved June 13, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Cavaliers hire David Blatt as head coach". nba.com. Retrieved June 21, 2014. 
  22. ^ "David Blatt voted Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year". euroleague.net. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  23. ^ "David Blatt Namedd Eastern Conference Coach of the Month". NBA.com. Retrieved May 15, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Are Cavs fans warming up to coach David Blatt? Cleveland's best coach or manager (poll)". cleveland.com. 
  25. ^ Rosenberg, Michael (May 27, 2015). "LeBron James comes home, brings Cavaliers closer to first NBA title". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to David Blatt: "All of Israel is behind Lebron James and the Cavaliers"". cleveland.com. 
  27. ^ Joshua Mitnick (June 3, 2015). "In Israel, Cavaliers Coach David Blatt Remains King". The Wall Street Journal. 
  28. ^ "Steve Kerr and David Blatt meet again, this time as rookie coaches to meet in the NBA Finals - ProBasketballTalk". nbcsports.com. 
  29. ^ McGraw, Daniel (17 June 2015). "Golden State Warriors crowned NBA champions after easing past tired Cavs". theguardian.com (The Guardian). Retrieved 17 June 2015. 

External links[edit]