In the NBA, as in many other major league sports, superstar players hold a great deal of influence. It is especially true when the player happens to be considered almost as gifted in his intellectual and strategic abilities associated with basketball as he is for his athletic prowess. So when you’ve got such a player in frequent conflict with the head coach about strategy, you can guess who the winner will be. You can also guess the winner when your star player refuses to run plays as the coach calls them. That’s a serious problem.
LeBron James, one of the greatest NBA players ever is a force to be reckoned with and Blatt’s staying power is not in his own hands. Whether Blatt stays or goes will probably depend strongly on LeBron’s recommendations and feelings over the next couple of months.
One problem that Blatt has had is that prior to coming to the Cav’s team, he was a coach in Europe which uses the international rules, as opposed to the American rules. The change in rules factors into international competitions for American teams too when they participate in events like the Olympics. But Blatt is on US soil and has managed to make some rather public mistakes because of these differences.
To be fair, when Blatt was hired, LeBron had not made any serious statements about his desire to return home and play for the Cavs. So Blatt was hired with the idea that he had a young team with very little expectations about playoffs in the first year. His job was to train and nurture that team for a potential in the future. Being in the playoffs was not even considered. Then LeBron’s decision changed everything. There was no learning curve for Blatt from that point forward.
During the recent playoffs, LeBron publicly discussed several disagreements about how to handle certain plays, resulting in LeBron calling the shots. He also was not shy about sharing those events. So will Blatt stay, or will he go? Whatever the decision, LeBron will probably have a sizeable say though the NBA is unlikely to shift LeBron’s influence about the decision away from him.
When you are lucky enough to have a player like LeBron James on your team, you do your best to keep him focused on his game rather than worrying about policies or politics. If he feels the need to take over coaching decisions, it is a big indicator the coach is not a good fit.
From a Public Relations perspective, it is clear that David Blatt should not be coaching the Cavs next fall.
About Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.