LeBron praises coach Blatt: ‘He’s done a hell of a job’

Better late than never, right?

For most of the season, it seemed like Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James barely acknowledged his team even had a head coach.

Heck, sometimes he wouldn’t even let David Blatt sit in on the huddle:

And if there were any LBJ endorsements of the Cavs’ first-year head coach at all, they were tepid at best. Early on — when the team was playing sub-.500 ball — all the media could wring out of The King was this not-so-glowing endorsement of Blatt:

"Yeah, he’s our coach. I mean, what other coach do we have?"

Some might argue that LeBron himself has been that "other coach," but still, his statement was factually accurate.

But now that LeBron and company are en route to an NBA Finals appearance — with a chance to end the city of Cleveland’s long, miserable championship drought — it appears The King is ready to tell us what he REALLY thinks of his head coach.

Per CBS Sports, LeBron offered high praise — yes, praise — for Blatt after the team’s Monday practice:

"Any time someone is scrutinized really for nothing, I’m able to relate," James said (of Blatt). "For him in his instance, obviously, we knew there were a lot of people that were going to say things that didn’t mean much. … People love reading the negative things more than the positive things, and I think he’s handled the situation unbelievably. Being a rookie coach in the NBA and being able to take this team to the Finals, I think he’s done a hell of a job."

My, how far these two have come.

Consider that only a few weeks after his lukewarm "what other coach do we have?" statement — during LeBron’s first game back from an eight-game rest — the so-called "shove" happened:

Oh, and then there was that infamous Game 4 semifinal vs. the Chicago Bulls, in which Blatt himself acknowledged he nearly "blew it" by trying to call a timeout he didn’t have:

And afterward, there was LeBron, seeming to throw Blatt under the bus, too:

But things are clearly different now. The Cavaliers actually ended up winning that series vs. the Bulls pretty decisively, and as Cleveland.com notes, the team hasn’t lost a game since.

Per the site:

James was asked if Blatt deserved more credit, and he said, "I don’t think he cares about that.

"It shouldn’t matter, getting credit from other people, who cares? It’s all about how we credit each other. That’s inside these (walls) on these floors every day in this practice facility, the game, film session, things of that nature. So it shouldn’t matter what everybody else (says)."

Wise words … though you can bet it will matter a great deal to LeBron James, David Blatt and the rest of the team if Cavs fans can finally put the "champion" label on this team.