Everyone from Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev, to the US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, have been voicing their opinion on David Blatt’s firing by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Regular Israelis have also made their feelings felt online, mostly in far less diplomatic ways than Regev or Shapiro.
The surprise sacking of Blatt despite leading the Cavs to the NBA Finals last year and to the best record in the Eastern Conference so far this season, saw millions of Israelis turn from fans to haters of the team and especially star LeBron James, who is widely held responsible for the coaching change.
News of the firing topped all Israeli newscasts on Saturday, with Middle East violence and the stormy weather taking a back seat to the fate of Israel’s first NBA coach.
“David, there is no doubt you will still have an illustrious career in the NBA,” Regev wrote on Facebook. “Know that an entire country is behind you, loves you and supports you.”
Blatt, who moved to Israel over 30 years ago after playing for the USA basketball team in the 1981 Maccabiah, was surprisingly appointed as the head coach of the Cavs after guiding Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title in 2013/14. He’s married to an Israeli woman, Kinneret, and raised his four children in the country, with the oldest two having completed their military service.
“I don’t really understand the Cavs’ decision to fire David Blatt after all his success. But I congratulate him, a wonderful man and a talented coach, on all his accomplishments, and wish him well in the future,” US ambassador to Israel Shapiro wrote on Facebook.
Much of the blame for Blatt’s sacking has been leveled at James, whose Instegram page was filled with countless crude comments in Hebrew and English since the news was made official.
“Such a great player. Such a small, lame, pathetic personality,” wrote one Israeli user in what was one of the more cordial comments. “So drunk from all the fame and completely blind to see how fortunate you were to play under Blatt’s guidance.”