Coach David Blatt Coach David Blatt Coach David Blatt is one of the most successful American coaches in European basketball history. (Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

NBA coach to face his former Israeli team in his first game

'I couldn't think of a better-scripted story,' says David Blatt.

When former Maccabi Tel Aviv coach David Blatt was hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, he became the first Israeli-American to coach in the NBA. But it appears Blatt can't stay away from his former team for too long - it was recently announced that his first preseason game as the Cavaliers' coach will be against none other than Maccabi Tel Aviv. The exhibition game will take place at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on Oct. 5.

"I couldn't think of a better-scripted story than starting this new chapter in my life with a friendly game against my Maccabi Tel Aviv family," Blatt said in a press release issued by the Euroleague U.S. tour. Adding to the two teams' history, several former Maccabi players have played ball for Cleveland, including Omri Casspi, Jeremy Pargo and Anthony Parker.

Two days after the game against the Cavaliers, the Brooklyn Nets will host Maccabi at the Barclays Center for their first meeting in three decades. In 1984, Maccabi defeated the Nets in Tel Aviv. Maccabi has won 15 of 20 games against NBA teams dating back to 1978.

Cleveland fans elated about new coach

Blatt's arrival has many Cavaliers fans excited about the upcoming season. "He’s bringing over a creative and innovative style," Paul Kuzmickas, an attorney in Cleveland, told From the Grapevine. Kuzmickas, who watches most games from a sports bar, hopes Blatt's arrival will spur his law firm to purchase season tickets. "We're just hoping that he becomes a permanent fixture here and that he brings success to Cleveland."

Ezzie Goldish, another Cavaliers fan, echoed that sentiment. "I just love that the Cavs went 'out of the box' with the hire," the Cleveland native said. "Blatt has been incredibly successful everywhere he's been, and he coaches team ball, which this team needs."

Blatt has won several European championships, was named Israel's "Coach of the Year" four times, and had a 93–14 record coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv.


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows
NBA coach to face his former Israeli team in his first game
NBA coach David Blatt, recently hired by the Cleveland Cavaliers, will face off against his former team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in his first preseason game.