TORONTO: Just a few kilometers from Air Canada Center at the old, historic Maple Leaf Gardens and just minutes before the Toronto Raptors played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, former Cavs David Blatt talked at a Canada Basketball coaching clinic.
“What the hell am I doing here? Don’t we have a game in a little bit?” Blatt said.
He said it with a smile and a sense of humor.
Before speaking he said didn’t want to discuss what happened with his mid-season dismissal when the Cavs were 30-11. But afterward, he told USA TODAY Sports, “I will say this: I’m really happy for the players I coached and for the staff that I worked with and for the job that they’re doing because they’re doing good work. They really are.”
Asked by a coach in attendance how he handled the Cavs firing, Blatt said, “If you’re a coach, you’re going to get hit in the head once in a while. Believe in yourself. Never give up. Keep striving.”
During his presentation – which centered more on coaching philosophy than Xs and Os – Blatt told coaches that when one of his assistants becomes a head coach, it’s his great source of coaching pride.
“All my assistants are important to me, and I want to see them do well,” Blatt told USA TODAY Sports.
In a brief conversation, Blatt said he will not take next season off and suggested that if he doesn’t have a head coaching job in the job, he will take one overseas as opposed to working as an assistant or associate head coach in the NBA.
“I don’t see myself not being a head coach somewhere but you never know,” he said.
In 23 years as a coach, Blatt has never taken a full season off.
“I’m going to coach next year. I’m not going to sit out. It’s not in my nature. I want to work,” he said. “I’ll be back somewhere. Could be anywhere.”
Anywhere in the world? “It’s the story of my life,” said the coaching nomad who has had jobs in Russia, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Italy and the United States.
The NBA was his first choice, but it doesn’t look like he will get a top job in the NBA for 2016-17.
“I went through the interview process, and I sincerely hoped to get a job,” he said. “It didn’t work out, and I’m looking ahead. That’s all.”
Blatt was in his element talking basketball, going through his talk accompanied with a Power Point presentation. He listed his four pillars for coaching: Play hard. Play together. Play to win. Have fun.
“If we would do that, we always have a shot to win,” he said.
He also talked about the difference between coaching in Europe and coaching in the NBA.