By Marc Brodsky
(JTA) – The team that brought you Maccabi Tel Aviv’s David Blatt as coach, led by a Jewish owner in Dan Gilbert, now has a Jewish general manager.
Koby Altman, 34, was named GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers on July 27, after serving as an interim replacement for the past five weeks.
He may need some help from Hashem to keep the Cavs on the championship path, what with one of their top players, Kyrie Irving, reportedly requesting a trade off the LeBron James-powered squad after it was vanquished by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals last month.
At a news conference, Altman noted the team’s “unprecedented success” over the past three seasons – consecutive appearances in the Finals and a title capping the 2015-16 campaign, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.
Blatt was the Cavs’ coach until he was dismissed in January with Cleveland holding the best record in the Eastern Conference. Assistant Tyronn Lue took over for the championship run and remains the head coach. The previous season, Blatt had guided the Cavaliers to the Finals – a losing effort to the Warriors.
Altman, a native of Brooklyn, New York, has been leading the front office since David Griffin left the organization.
“This is a promotion, and it’s an incredible promotion … but I’ve been here, I know this organization really well,” Altman said at the news conference, according to the Cleveland Jewish News. “This is going to be my sixth year here. I know the cast of characters very well. I’ve worked across all levels of this organization and I have deep relationships across all levels of this organization, and I know I can now lead this organization because of that.”
Regarding Irving, Gilbert did not confirm whether the All-Star performer had made the request.
Altman, who joined the Cavs in 2012, was promoted to assistant general manager last September from director of pro personnel. Previously, he served as an assistant coach at New York’s Columbia University and as a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois. He earned a master’s degree in sport management at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. While at UMass, he was a coach at nearby Amherst College for two seasons. Altman was a three-year starter at point guard for Middlebury College in Vermont.
He is the second Jewish GM in Cavs’ history: Harry Weltman held the post from 1982 to 1986. Under his direction, the Cavs made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, in 1984-85.