David Blatt fired by Cleveland Cavaliers
(JTA) — The Cleveland Cavaliers fired Israeli-American head coach David Blatt, who led the team to the NBA Finals last season and to the best record in the Eastern Conference midway through this one. Blatt confirmed that he was fired and released a statement thanking the Cavaliers for the opportunity. “I am proud of what we have accomplished since I have been the Head Coach and wish the Cavaliers nothing but the best this season and beyond,” read the statement. Assistant coach Tyronn Lue will take over as head coach. Cavaliers general manager David Griffin did not consult superstar forward Lebron James before making the coaching change, ESPN reported. Many Cavaliers players felt that Blatt was unprepared for the job, ESPN reported.
Blatt took Maccabi Tel Aviv to an improbable Euroleague championship in 2014 before becoming the first coach to leap from that league to an NBA head coaching position later in the year.
A native of Framingham, Mass., Blatt played high school basketball and attended Hebrew school at Temple Beth Am. He went on to play point guard at Princeton University. During college, Blatt played for a kibbutz basketball team in the summer. He won a gold medal in the 1981 Maccabi Games with the U.S. basketball team. Blatt played nine years in Israel, before retiring in 1993 to become a coach. He coached in Israel, Russia and around Europe. As head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel’s dominant basketball team, Blatt won respect around the world. His Israeli wife and four children live in Tel Aviv.
After initially struggling to adapt to the NBA game, the Cavaliers under Blatt made it to the 2015 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. So far this season, they have the best record in the Eastern Conference. In a season and a half at the helm, Blatt guided the Cavaliers to an 83-40 record; his .675 winning percentage was the best of any coach in franchise history.
Patriots’ Julian Edelman 4th-best Jewish football player ever
(JTA) — New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is the fourth-best Jewish football player ever, the American Jewish Historical Society announced Jan. 21. The society included Edelman behind Hall of Fame quarterbacks Sid Luckman and Benny Friedman and Hall of Fame lineman Ron Mix in its ranking.
The 29-year-old has emerged as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s favorite receiving target over the past few seasons. He racked up 92 receptions for 972 yards in the 2014 season and was a key part of the team’s Super Bowl victory last year. His 2015 season was derailed by a foot injury on Nov. 15 that required surgery, but he returned to play last weekend in the Patriots’ 27-20 AFC Divisional round win against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Edelman has referenced his Jewish heritage in interviews and on his highly trafficked social media pages. He visited Israel last summer.
The three Jewish football players above Edelman on the list have kvell-worthy resumes of their own. Luckman played for the Chicago Bears from 1939 to 1950 and won four NFL championships. He was considered one of the best long-range passers of his time. Ron Mix was a nine-time all star offensive tackle who played for the L.A. and San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders. Friedman, who played for four different teams between 1927 and 1934, was considered one of the league’s first great passers.
Jerusalem Marathon’s overseas registration doubles
(JTA) — Jerusalem’s sixth annual marathon is expected to attract a record number of foreign participants despite the wave of violence that began in October. Some 754 runners outside Israel have registered for the March 18 race, more than double the number at this time last year. Altogether, 5,384 runners have registered for the marathon. Countries represented include Uzbekistan, Argentina, Hong Kong, Austria, Singapore, Turkey, the United States and Switzerland. Sixty runners are coming from China alone. Last year, Tadesse Yaee Dahbi of Ethiopia won the race, completing the route in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds. Registration is accepted until March 2. Runners can elect to participate in the full 26.2-mile route or various shorter ones.