At a certain point, it’s hard not to feel bad for David Blatt. As a rookie coach, he helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2015, and had a very good record into the 2015-16 season. But persistent rumors of clubhouse discontent followed the Cavs wherever they went, and it was clear Blatt didn’t have a good relationship with star and franchise captain LeBron James. So, out Blatt went, replaced sheepishly by Tyronn Lue, and the Cavs went on to win the NBA championship.
Confirmation bias really isn’t kind to Blatt, whose departure some point to as a turning point, and it’s impossible to say how fair that was. (Channing Frye’s arrival was also credited with uniting the locker room, for what it’s worth.) But the fact remains that Blatt had a hand in designing the Cavs’ team strategies, which Lue and LeBron never would have tossed out wholesale mid-season. And, like Anderson Varejao, the fact that Blatt started the season on the team means he will be given a championship ring with the rest of the squad when the season begins (Varejao, whose Warriors lost to the Cavs in the Finals, declined his ring).
Championship rings are great mementos for those involved in a championship season that double as a one-time source of extra cash if times get tight, but if his previous words are any indication, Blatt might feel pretty conflicted about his bling.