Report: James 'emasculated' Blatt throughout NBA Finals
By Steve DelVecchio
There were plenty of moments throughout the regular season where LeBron James showcased his lack of respect for Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt. As it turns out, all was not well between the two during the NBA Finals, either.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that LeBron acted in a disrespectful manner toward Blatt throughout Cleveland’s series against the Golden State Warriors. Stein says he witnessed James being openly defiant toward Blatt and saw him “emasculate” the second-year NBA coach on numerous occasions.
I saw it from close range in my role as sideline reporter through the Finals for ESPN Radio. LeBron essentially calling timeouts and making substitutions. LeBron openly barking at Blatt after decisions he didn’t like. LeBron huddling frequently with Lue and so often looking at anyone other than Blatt.
There was LeBron, in one instance I witnessed from right behind the bench, shaking his head vociferously in protest after one play Blatt drew up in the third quarter of Game 5, amounting to the loudest nonverbal scolding you could imagine.
Which forced Blatt, in front of his whole team, to wipe the board clean and draw up something else.
LeBron will likely opt out of his current two-year deal with the Cavs and sign a new contract this summer. The team reportedly wants him to essentially act as general manager throughout the offseason and play a big role in shaping out Cleveland’s roster. Is that bad news for Blatt?
Rumors about LeBron and Blatt not getting along fizzled out late in the regular season and as the Cavs were working their way toward the NBA Finals. Winning can have that effect. Earlier in the season, we saw LeBron physically push Blatt out of the way during a game. There were also reports about James overruling the coach’s play calls and taking over point guard duties without consulting anyone.
Perhaps complicating things even more, LeBron isn’t the only player who has been accused of not treating Blatt with the respect a head coach deserves.
When the Cavs completed a sweep of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, Blatt put his arm around LeBron and the two shared a special moment for the cameras. According to Stein, the good vibes didn’t last.
In an interview with SVP & Russillo on Wednesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst — whose job is basically to cover all things LeBron — said that James wouldn’t mind if the Cavs don’t make a coaching change because he “likes having Blatt to kick around.”
Sounds like a great job to have, eh?
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