ESNY

David Blatt is out as Cavaliers head coach. This isn’t just Lebron James’s team–it’s his organization.

By Chip Murphy

NBA guru Adrian Wojnarowski dropped one of his trademark bombs this afternoon when he first reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers had fired their head coach, David Blatt, despite having the Eastern Conference’s best record. Rumors of LeBron James’s discontent with Blatt, despite last season’s Finals appearance, have not ceased. Today’s decision was not about basketball. If the firing proved one thing, it’s that LeBron James is one of the greatest allies you can have, but he’s also a terrible enemy.


LeBron isn’t the nice guy that he wants everyone to believe when it comes to the game of basketball, not when it comes to winning. He wants to win a championship for Cleveland after betraying them in his now infamous ‘LeCision’ broadcast, and now he has proven there is no length that he won’t go to for that title. King James isn’t the nice guy. He’s the villain. The villain who is willing to play politics and take down a coach for purely personal reasons.

Cavs management can spin today’s move however they want, but no one’s buying it. When general manager David Griffin came out with his prepared statement and threw head coach David Blatt under the bus during the obligatory press conference, he looked and sounded like the puppet we all know he is. That’s because he doesn’t run the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James does.

He wanted to bring a championship to Cleveland his way, and David Blatt wasn’t a part of that. James has had a vision for too long of how he was going to win this championship and that included Tyronn Lue as the head coach, not David Blatt. James wants to win in Cleveland, but even more than that he wants to win his way. Like every great athlete he has an ego, and in a Michael Jordan-like move he decided to pick his coach.

Much like Jordan and his infamous super-agent David Falk would use their incredible leverage to force the hand of the Chicago Bulls and the rest of the NBA, James and Rich Paul have been pushing for Tyronn Lue to take David Blatt’s job since day one. It can’t have been comfortable for Blatt knowing how close James was to his supposed assistant. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, James was deferring to Lue during the NBA finals last season and tuning out Blatt completely.

According to multiple reports, Lue had interviewed for the Cavs head coaching position before they decided on Blatt. Lue was given the position of Blatt’s top assistant to help him transition to the NBA game. Ironic, right? Lue has been waiting for this chance for almost two years knowing that he would get it the entire time. He’s had King James telling him that he would take care of it, just like he took care of Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love.

Love was wavering on whether or not to return to the Cavs before he and James had a talk about how his role would change. The Cavs have been force feeding Love the ball this season and the results have been the same. He still has not reached the level of production he had while in Minnesota and Blatt has been blamed for that failure. James certainly didn’t do anything to back up his coach on that front, and never has.

When Thompson held out for what everyone else with a brain perceived as ridiculous contract demands, James took to his Instagram account and posted a picture of himself and Thompson with a little nudge towards Cleveland management. Thompson, who shares an agent with James, went so far as to hold out for all of training camp before getting what he wanted. The Cavs folded to his incredible demands, yielding to their king.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

With David Blatt gone, James finally has the coach of his choosing. Tyronn Lue will not make any decisions without the King James seal of approval, and the thought of anything different is absurd. Even James would tell you that he has no idea if Lue can win as a head coach in the NBA — by the way, David Blatt can — but the newly minted head coach wasn’t placed for this position for his ability to win. He’s there to be LeBron’s sidekick. The term player-coach should apply to this situation because LeBron is going to run the show.

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Chip Murphy
I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for EliteSportsNY.com. I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: chip.murphy@elitesportsny.com Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.