LeBron James: "We have a lot of work to do"

LeBron‘s lack of respect for his coach David Blatt is no longer a surprise to anyone and reporters have been all over that story all season long but Marc Stein reported the news with such assertiveness and uniqueness bringing in some spectacular anecdotes such as: LeBron shaking off a Blatt whiteboard play, LeBron huddling with associate head coach Ty Lue and calling timeouts himself all the while asserting that LeBron is not the leader he believes himself to be and that his behavior is unbecoming. But let’s be honest: it’s pretty obvious to anyone who pays attention that LeBron has remained unimpressed by his coach all season long.

As Stein asks, who on the Cavaliers can fully respect the coach when the team’s best player treats him like a substitute teacher?

The truth is Blatt is an NBA rookie who did not coach in the league despite his European success, and what about is approach with LeBron? The greatest player of all times, four time MVP and also two time NBA champion. What must one think when the facts speak for themselves. This is not about who’s right or who’s wrong, this is about winning the game.

As an example, Stein brings Tim Duncan’s and Gregg Popovich, one of the NBA’s smartest, most charismatic coaches of all time. In this case Tim Duncan surrendered  himself to his coach full control. Need we say more? Nothing Blatt has done so far brings him to the level of Popovich.  Also, lets not forget Duncan’s historic greatness in his willingness to adapt. What about David Blatt should he make that change now?

On the other side it’s not as if Blatt is the first coach to struggle earning LeBron’s respect. We have the Erik Spoelstra story. How did the two of them come together? LeBron challenged Spoelstra’s ideas, accepted the ones that worked, found common ground and won titles.

Although this isn’t anything new for LeBron, it is simply a clear message to Blatt  that to earn LeBron’s respect he’s to do a better job.

This is not to say that Blatt doesn’t deserve a good deal of credit, after all he did lead the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, especially with his staff’s work on defensive schemes late in the season and into the playoffs. Once LeBron decompresses and reviews the season, he’ll come to appreciate Blatt’s role in the success a little more.

Again it could be that Lue is responsible for the defensive improvement, and also that LeBron actually knows best. Stein asks LeBron to defer to Blatt because of Blatt’s official title and because of the teamwide ramifications of LeBron’s disrespect. Shouldn’t we defer to LeBron because of LeBron’s accomplishments? What more must LeBron do to earn the benefit of the doubt from observers that he knows what he’s doing?

Going back to January, when Cleveland was below .500 and LeBron took two weeks to rest. A few games after he returned, he scrapped Blatt’s ill-fitting system and dubbed himself the point guard. He flourished. Kyrie Irving flourished and so did the Cavaliers.

The trades made by David Griffin improved the roster a substantial amount, yes. But let’s not argue that LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love found harmony because of Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith. They found defensive progress.

The powerfulness of the offense is simply due to LeBron being the best player on the planet and having him take over the play making duties.He did more to develop Kyrie’s game than any suit on the sidelines has or could.

The results are obvious. When LeBron took control and when he openly discounted Blatt’s authority by changing everything about the team’s style — the Cavaliers became awesome. So exactly why again are we offended by LeBron tactics in the Finals?

LeBron is not the only Cavalier at odds with Blatt. Love was openly disturbed by the coach and his situation throughout the season. It looked like a discordant triangle: Love didn’t like the way Blatt used him or LeBron’s ball dominance, LeBron didn’t like Blatt’s system or Love’s resistance to sacrifice, Blatt and his minions complained about both to the media (and then complained when the media reported on it).

Some of us do find that rejection of authority a bit refreshing. Broader society prefers our greatest performers to be humble. In that regard, LeBron will never please you.

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