Cavaliers coach David Blatt is a builder of relationships with players and fellow coaches, and that has led to success.
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- New Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt was a multi-time championship-winning coach and Coach of the Year during his time coaching basketball in Russia, Turkey, Italy and Israel.
And Cavaliers general manager David Griffin believes that success was because of the relationships Blatt built with his fellow coaches and former players, one of whom, Drew Kennedy, drove from Chicago to Cleveland to see his former coach become the first European manager to attain a head-coaching position in the NBA.
"This is a man that builds deep, meaningful relationships with the players that have lasted a lifetime," Griffin said of Blatt during the introductory press conference last Wednesday. "I have no doubt that he's going to be able to connect with anybody that we put in front of him, and I think, as we build the staff, that's a big part of what we're doing.
"I would say that if you're any player and you want to play for somebody that's been a proven winner, who knows how to instill the kind of selflessness that wins championships, you're going to want to hear what David has to say."
Blatt believes his ability to build relationships stems from how he treats those he shares the basketball court with.
"Developing relationships is more about the person that you are than the reputation that you have, and I look forward to the opportunity of talking to any of the guys that Griff feels are right to come to this organization," Blatt said.
"Am I the most convincing guy in the world? Probably top four (laugh). I have no problem talking to anybody, and I've always had the kind of relationships with my players that they know I'm going to be tough with them. I'm going to be fair with them. I'm going to treat them as human beings like I want to be treated."
Blatt is so good at building relationships and getting people to buy into a culture of winning that he was able to bring onto his staff a former contender for the job he accepted two weeks ago.
During their nearly two-month long coaching search, the Cavaliers interviewed a handful of candidates. Former Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics assistant Tyronn Lue was one of those who interviewed with the Cavaliers, and although he did not get the head-coaching job, Lue joined the staff as associate head coach.
"Ty Lue is someone who gives us immediate credibility with a lot of people," Griffin said. "He gives David a defensive background in the NBA with one of the best coaches in the NBA (Clippers coach Doc Rivers), and so, we're going to build this as a family, and I couldn't think of a better person to be leading that.
Blatt added, "I really like to start things off with a bang, and I think we did that. It's a great credit to Griff and to the management. Honestly, Tyronn was one of the main candidates to come and coach here. I had the opportunity to have several discussions with Tyronn. Everything that they told me about Ty was true and then some.
"(I) really, really had a great feeling about him, got tremendous feedback from others concerning his knowledge of the game, his commitment to the cause. When we were able to bring Tyronn over to the team, no one was happier than me, and I'm really looking forward to the kind of cooperation that he's already experienced with other great coaches in the successful environments that he's been in. It's just an exciting sign for us."