It appears we really can’t go more than a few days without another “controversy” popping up for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite the team sitting comfortably at the second seed in the Eastern Conference, despite the team having only lost a handful of games since mid-January and being a trendy pick to win it all this season, there still seems to be plenty of stories out there claiming things aren’t going so well in Cleveland.
We all know about the numerous issues with Kevin Love, which have now become a staple in this Cavs season. Now, it appears we’ve shifted negative focus back to first-year coach David Blatt.
This past Tuesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst was a guest on Bill Simmons’ B.S. Report podcast. In the 47 minute segment, the two discussed many various topics of the Cavs’ season so far. One of the topics of note was the fact LeBron James has often made play calls during games throughout the year. Blatt, when seeing the call James is making, will repeat said play to the rest of the team.
It’s important to note how quickly this topic was discussed and then put in the past. I’d say maybe 2-3% of the podcast was dedicated to James calling his own plays. However, as we know, this was the only note taken from the entire show.
Not Windhorst exclaiming how big it is that James and Kyrie Irving can officially work perfectly together for the near future. Not the two reporters raving about how well the Timofey Mozgov acquisition has worked out for the Cavs. Not even Windhorst saying he believes James has reached a place where he thinks this Cleveland team can win it all.
Nope, all we heard was how big a deal it was that Blatt isn’t calling all the plays.
Why is this still a big issue? Why did Blatt have to answer questions yesterday about something which really isn’t that crazy? I hypothesized last week when discussing Love that, with a team looking this successful, people will always be searching for negatives. That said, the fact James has been calling plays over Blatt is hardly a negative.
Are we really supposed to be surprised that James, arguably the best player in the league, is sometimes calling plays mid-game instead of Blatt, who is still in the middle of his first year coaching in the NBA? Blatt may have seen plenty of success coaching overseas, sure. At the same time, James has been in this league for 11 full seasons now. Odds are strong he may see something on the court Blatt doesn’t. For obvious reasons, it’s completely fine if he decides to call an audible as a result.
Additionally, there’s a zero percent chance this is the first time something like this has occurred in the NBA. You mean to tell me Michael Jordon never called his own plays on the court? Magic Johnson? Kobe Bryant?
This kind of thing happens in the NBA more often than these stories make it sound. However, the issue here is we’ve already had various reports about the sometimes-tenuous relationship between James and Blatt. At the same time, the majority of these stories were surfacing when the Cavs were still floundering around in the early half of the season. Nobody was happy back then, negativity was flowing across the board, and there were more than a few reports indicating just as much.
Nobody was looking at the Cavs as a title contender in early January. They are now. And yet, we’re still supposed to be astonished James is calling plays over Blatt.
At the end of the day, this is hardly a story of note. The best player in the league sometimes makes his own play calls during games. The horror. How are the Cavs functioning with this much chaos going down?
But, don’t take my word for it. Just listen to Blatt when asked whether it was a big deal for James to dial up his own plays.
“Why not? Especially if it works.”
Sounds good to me.