David Blatt, apparently, never stood a chance with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Not if the words of Miami Heat minority owner Raanan Katz are true.
During an interview on ONE.co.il’s 102FM, an Israeli sports talk radio station, Katz alleged that LeBron tried to have Heat coach Erik Spoelstra fired, and then returned to Cleveland when it became clear team president Pat Riley wouldn’t oblige his request/demand/whatever the hell this is.
Here’s David Pick reporting for Bleacher Report:
On why James left Miami for Cleveland:
“With the Miami Heat, LeBron James — before and after his four seasons when his contract was up with the team—made it clear that he wanted to dump head coach Erik Spoelstra. At one point, [Heat President] Pat Riley called LeBron into his office said that no one will tell him how to run the organization. Riley told James that Spoelstra is his guy, and that firing Spoelstra is out of the question. That was the main reason LeBron returned to Cleveland.”
This should be taken with a grain, if not a metric ton, of salt. Katz is embedded with the Heat. He makes clear through his discussion on the radio show that LeBron “screwed” Miami. Katz, per Pick, also used to be a “shareholder of Maccabi Tel Aviv” and is clearly fiercely loyal to Blatt.
Still, this sort of corroborates what went down in Cleveland. The feeling was always that LeBron and his people weren’t happy with Blatt and wished to install their own figurehead—someone James would respect, or someone for whom he at least wanted to play.
It’s also common knowledge that LeBron James wanted a former player in charge, which is why Tyronn Lue makes so much sense.
There’s a lot to really take in here, but if this is true, if LeBron honest-to-God left Miami because he couldn’t have a championship-winning head coach fired, the optics are bad. Really bad. It paints LeBron as unnecessarily power hungry, even if the Blatt dismissal was totally justifiable in a vacuum.
Of course, all of this could also prove false, in which case LeBron is really a victim of rampant conjecture. There’s also this to consider from the Miami Herald‘s Ethan Skolnick:
He's a "co-owner" like I'm a co-owner of McDonald's because I have 100 shares. https://t.co/TLAKSqSIib
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) January 27, 2016
In all likelihood, the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.
As for what that means in Cleveland, for a Cavs team deeply tethered to LeBron’s will, only time can tell.