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NBA's Cavaliers Fire Ex-Russian National Team Coach Blatt

  • RFE/RL

The Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) have fired head coach David Blatt, who guided the Russian men's national team to a European title and Olympic bronze medal before taking over in Cleveland in 2014.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert announced the move on January 22, reportedly surprising Blatt and his players, including superstar LeBron James.

Blatt, 56, compiled an 83-40 record in 1 1/2 seasons with Cleveland and last season took the team to the NBA finals, where it lost to the Golden State Warriors.

Gilbert said that the shake-up was driven by "more than wins and losses."

"Are we working toward a championship, are we building a championship culture?" Gilbert said.

Blatt, an Israeli-American, was replaced by assistant coach Tyronn Lue.

He said in a statement that he is "proud of what we have accomplished since I have been the head coach" and that he wishes the team "nothing but the best this season and beyond."

Before coming to the NBA, Blatt coached the Israeli club Maccabi Tel-Aviv to six Israeli Cup championships and five league titles.

He also coached the Russian men's national team, led by star player and former NBA forward Andrei Kirilenko, to the 2007 Eurobasket championship, the 2011 Eurobasket bronze medal, and the 2012 London Olympics bronze medal.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa