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How easy would it be to blame one of the most scrutinized athletes in the world for yet another unfortunate outcome surrounding his mystique? We are witnessing one of the most player driven eras in sports that has had a profound effect on the treatment of high profile athletes. However, can we really call LeBron James a coach killer? Weren’t we brought up to learn that there are two sides to every story? Upon further review, we will see that truth usually lies some where in the middle of both stories.
Now, I’m not saying that James is innocent in this whole ordeal, but to put the entire blame on him would be myopic. I was never a big fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers hiring David Blatt in the first place. The fact that he was a legendary coach over seas doesn’t say much when it comes to being able to coach in the NBA. Coaching in America requires not only the mastery of the sport but also the management of egos that are larger than life. James is as big as they come.
As this story has developed, it has come to light that the biggest reason he was let go was his mismanagement of the aforementioned ego. In this day and age it is paramount that if a coach is to be heard by his players, he must have something to say. The time when coaches ruled with impunity has now all but disappeared. I can’t say that I disagree with this being that it granted immunity to terrible coaches. I only use this as an example for what is now becoming the standard for coaching.
That being said, I was suspicious of the dynamic on the bench between Blatt, (Tyronn) Lue and James. Why would an effective coach need an assistant to pull off a balancing act in order to keep the peace with his best player? Have you ever tried to coach a player whom believes that he knows more than you do? Coming off an impressive run at Miami, it must be close to impossible to be able to reach James. The same ego, which could brand him un-coachable, is the same ego that allows him to be the player that he is.
His self-proclaimed high basketball IQ is an example of this dichotomy. That he does not move well without the ball and his lack of command of the half court game speaks loudly about his perceived basketball IQ. This is the same man whose answer for traveling in a game was that he used a “crab dribble”. With this in mind, I believe that his role in this was a little misconstrued. It was more about what he didn’t say and didn’t do that contributed to Blatt’s demise. This entire situation was destined to fail from the beginning.
The fact that Blatt was ill prepared to handle the NBA game and failed to earn a solid bond with his best and most influential player shows that he was not the right man for this particular job. It will be more interesting to follow the next team that he may coach in the league in order to get a true evaluation of his coaching prowess.