King James, Coach Blatt hope to help Cavaliers dominate NBA cosmos
David Blatt reaches the biggest basketball stage on the planet, where he will coach the best player in the known universe, LeBron James.
One enthusiastic NBA basketball fan and aspiring Jedi knight, living in a city by the lake far, far away, compared what’s going down in Cleveland right now to the original “Star Wars” movie trilogy. And here’s the spoiler: He sees the Cavaliers as the "rebels" – the good guys – of the NBA universe.
The comparison of former Olympic basketball coach and new Cavs coach, David Blatt, to a wise Jedi master like Yoda isn't much of a stretch, really, seeing as both have employed traditional and contemporary teaching methods to develop talent in some of the most unlikely of places. For Yoda, it was in the swamps of Dagobah system; for Blatt, it was throughout the NBA-less Europe and Israel, where the Princeton-schooled Blatt coached team after team to success.
And now the Israeli-American Blatt’s otherworldly credentials will be put to the ultimate test after his recent move to the biggest basketball stage on the planet, where he will coach a player considered by many to be the best in the known galaxy since the gravity-defying Michael Jordan.
If making the transition from international championship coach to NBA floor general of a team eager to win again and loaded with talent wasn’t enough of a feel-good storyline, there’s more: Blatt’s first game coaching LeBron James (the Luke Skywalker to Blatt's Yoda) and the rebel forces that are the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a pre-season friendly against Maccabi Tel Aviv. (The same squad Blatt took to the top of the Euroleague earlier this year, Maccabi proved that sometimes the students really do become the masters.) A week later, the Cavs travel to Brazil to take on LeBron’s old team, the Miami Heat. It’s a pair of match-ups – despite being only pre-season battles – that could make for some cosmic entertainment of the blockbuster kind.
In the spirit of extraterrestrial themes applied to a fanbase with sky-high hopes, it was Paul Kuzmickas, a Cleveland bankruptcy attorney and diehard Cavs fan, who compared the hard-luck club's saga to George Lucas' sci-fi classics.
“In chapter one, ‘A New Hope,’ Lebron was in Cleveland as a young man unsure of the way and learning as he went,” Kuzmickas told From The Grapevine. “In chapter two, ‘The Miami Empire Strikes Back,’ he left and became a man who can succeed, control his destiny, and he found himself." As Yoda once pointed out: "Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things."
"Just as ‘Return of the Jedi’ was the third and final chapter of the exciting, suspenseful and dramatic story of Luke Skywalker, we in Cleveland hope the ‘Return of the King’ is the third and final chapter of the exciting, suspenseful and dramatic story of Lebron James," Kuzmickas concluded. "Now he has returned as the true King, not only of Cleveland or the NBA, but worldwide.”
Certainly, the whole solar system is the limit.
In fact, pundits, sportscasters, armchair coaches and fans from Tatooine to the ice planet of Hoth can't deny it's a match made in heaven, or Cloud City at least. Heck, even The Wall Street Journal – yes, that famous publication generally known more for its business savvy than sports knowledge – believes Blatt’s “European pedigree” will be a positive influence on King James: “Those familiar with Blatt’s basketball history say James has … much to gain from this 55-year-old NBA rookie (Blatt)," the newspaper wrote.
Kuzmickas said, “Coach Blatt brings the Euro-Princeton offense to northeast Ohio – team basketball with lots of passing and movement. That style is similar to the San Antonio Spurs, who defeated Miami in the NBA finals." In other words, the Force is strong in this.
Another Cleveland Cavaliers' fan, Ezzie Goldish, also believes Blatt will be good for James and for the city of Cleveland’s chances at an NBA title – something they've failed to achieve despite making the playoff nine times in the past 40 years.
“Blatt was already being perceived positively prior to LeBron’s announcement,” Goldish told From The Grapevine. “I think the biggest piece in terms of the two together is that Blatt is known for maximizing not only efficient shot opportunities, but total possessions to capitalize on that style.” As it was when the Rebels were attacking the Death Star, it's crucial to make the shots count.
Whatever happens, both Kuzmickas and Goldish believe there’s no path the Cavs can take this season that won’t lead to at least a small amount of success, especially when compared to the LeBron-less years when playoffs and championships only happened in galaxies far, far away.
“Blatt will have a very successful first season,” Kuzmickas said. “I would not be surprised if he is the feel-good story of the year and wins Coach of the Year in his first season in the NBA.”
“Either way,” Goldish said, “it’s nice to be discussing whether the Cavs are or aren’t favorites to win the (Eastern Conference) instead of ‘will they even compete for a playoff spot.’” And for Cavs fans, that's a sentiment that is out of this world.
Perhaps the Force really is finally with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they can build an Empire of their own.
MORE FROM THE GRAPEVINE:
Related Topics: Sports