David Blatt has said being named the new head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers is “beyond a dream come true”.
The 55-year-old, who led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Eurobasket title last month, became the first Israeli to coach in the NBA when he put pen to paper on a three-year deal, which will earn him in the region of £5.8million.
He said: “This is a wonderful feeling. This is beyond a dream come true. I owe a big debt to Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israeli and European basketball and a lot of people who helped me along the way. This is very big and very special. It will take some time to sink in, but there is no time because there is a lot of work to be done.”
The Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert said: “David Blatt is going to bring some of the most innovative approaches found in professional basketball anywhere on the globe. Time and time again, from Russia to Israel and several other prominent head coaching jobs in between,
David has done one thing: ‘win’. He is not only an innovator, well-trained and focused on both sides of the court, but he is always learning and always teaching. Whether you are a top draft pick just entering the league, or a seasoned NBA veteran, Coach Blatt is going to take your game and the game of the team you are playing for to a new and higher level. That’s just who the man is and we are proud to call him our new head coach.”
Born in Bosnian, he moved to Israel in the early 1980’s after playing for the USA basketball team in the 1981 Maccabiah, and also led the Russian national team to the European title in 2007 and bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.