Cleveland Cavaliers Fire David Blatt

LeBron James, David Blatt
The Associated Press

The Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach David Blatt on Friday.

The team enjoys the best record in the Eastern Conference at 30-11 and won its last two games, so the decision comes as a surprise. Blatt led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in his first season as an NBA head coach last year. But repeated questions about whether the coach’s philosophy, gleaned from years of success in Israel and elsewhere abroad, meshed with his players, particularly LeBron James, dogged him during his stint in Cleveland.

The move recalls the 1981 decision by the Los Angeles Lakers to fire Paul Westhead despite him winning a championship two seasons before and leading the team to a respectable 7-4 record to start the 1981-1982 campaign. Westhead allegedly telling star player Magic Johnson to “Shut up!” in the locker room precipitated his demise.

The Cavs host the Chicago Bulls Saturday night with Tyronn Lue, a two-time champion as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers, at the helm for his first game as a head coach.