CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Cavaliers have named David Blatt the team’s new head coach, Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.
Blatt, 55, most recently coached perennial Euroleague championship contender Maccabi Tel Aviv, where his team finished with a 54-18 record this season, winning the Israel League, Israeli Cup and the Euroleague Championship. During his six years as head coach (2001-03 & 2010-2014), Blatt led the team to six Israeli Cup Championships and five Israeli League Championships. Over the past four seasons, Blatt’s teams went 225-55, (.804 winning percentage) including a team-best 70-13 record in 2011-12.
Blatt also spent six years as head coach of the Russian National Team, where in 2007, he guided Russia to a FIBA European Championship over then reigning World Champion Spain in Madrid. During the 2012 London Olympics, he led Russia to the bronze medal, the only Russian basketball medal since the break-up of the Soviet Union.
“David is a great basketball coach and a special person. His abilities to communicate, to build relationships with his players and to foster winning environments at several stops throughout Europe and across the highest levels of International competition speaks for itself. He brings unbridled passion, energy and creativity to his craft. These qualities have enabled David to reach a level of success that is truly unique,” said Griffin. “I have watched David’s work for many years. He has an uncanny ability to adapt his system to maximize the talents of his teams year after year. That is why I am very confident he will make a smooth transition to the NBA. There is a great opportunity to accelerate the progress of moving our team and franchise to the higher level of play we all believe we are capable of achieving. I am excited that the experience, knowledge, skills and leadership David will bring to the Cavaliers is the right fit at the right time.”
Blatt played professionally in Europe from 1981-93, mostly in the Israeli League. After retiring from playing in 1993 with Maccabi Hadera, Blatt built a successful 20-year coaching career overseas, including head coaching stints in Israel, Greece, Russia and Turkey. In 1996, he was named Israeli League Coach of the Year, the first of four times he would receive the award throughout his career (1996, 2002, 2011 and 2014).
“David Blatt is going to bring some of the most innovative approaches found in professional basketball anywhere on the globe. Time and time again, from Russia to Israel and several other prominent head coaching jobs in between, David has done one thing: ‘win’. He is not only an innovator, well-trained and focused on both sides of the court, but he is always learning and always teaching. Whether you are a top draft pick just entering the league, or a seasoned NBA veteran, Coach Blatt is going to take your game and the game of the team you are playing for to a new and higher level. That’s just who the man is and we are proud to call him our new head coach. We are driven by one thing and one thing only; delivering Cavaliers fans everywhere and the city of a Cleveland the kind of competitive basketball they deserve. I look forward to David's leadership in helping the entire Cavaliers organization realize our vision,” said majority owner Dan Gilbert.
The Boston, MA native has led teams to championships in the FIBA EuroChallenge (2005), Italian League (2006), Italian Cup (2007) and Adriatic League (2012) and was the Russian Super League Coach of the Year in 2005 (Dynamo Saint Petersburg).
“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to come to Cleveland and lead the Cavaliers as their head coach. After spending a great deal of time discussing the organization, the team and the head coach’s role with David Griffin, I feel strongly about my fit for the job and this team's potential. This is an opportune time to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. We are going to work extremely hard to achieve the kind of results we all expect and know are possible,” said Blatt. “I also want to thank Dan Gilbert, Nate Forbes, Jeff Cohen, and many others within the Cavaliers front office, for their belief and confidence in me and what we can accomplish together. This is a proud day for me, personally, but I hope just the first of many more for all of us as we work towards a very bright future. I have always heard about how great of a sports town Cleveland is and have come to understand how much fans here care about the Cavaliers. This makes me feel especially excited and comfortable to join this community but above all motivates me to help deliver in a big way.”
A member of the gold medal winning USA National team in 1981, Blatt played point guard at Princeton University under Basketball Hall of Famer, Pete Carrill.