LeBron James continues to reiterate that he played no part in David Blatt’s firing. But Blatt’s countrymen, in Israel, aren’t buying it.
The hate is real. Israelis hate James just as much as they hate the Hamas. Isn’t that a bit extreme?
“LeBron James is now the most hated person in Israel,” Sharon Davidovitch, a reporter for Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, told Agence France-Presse.
Davidovitch said that Israelis weren’t happy with the way James treated Blatt. There were many times when James acted as the defacto coach, entering and exiting the game as and when he pleased, calling timeouts without the coach’s directive, etc.
Compared to the Hamas…
“It’s a little bit joking and a little bit true: These days I can only compare the Israeli hate for LeBron James to the hate for Hamas,” said the Israel reporter, while speaking of the Palestinian Islamist movement running the Gaza Strip while calling for the fall of Israel.
Blatt, who was fired by the Cavaliers management last weekend, migrated to Israel in 1981 after graduating from Princeton in 1981. Since then, he played pro ball in the 1980s and the ‘90s before coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague title in 2014. Blatt, a sporting hero in Israel, joined the Cleveland Cavaliers as coach before the 2014-15 season.
Not surprisingly, Israeli papers gave Blatt’s firing front-page treatment Sunday. One headline reads, “Goliath eliminates David,” referring to James and Blatt.
The same newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, printed a cartoon on its back cover showing Blatt walking away from the locker room with James uncorking a champagne bottle in the background.
James has always had his share of haters in his home country. But now, the hate has transcended boundaries. Even back home, many wonder if his public image has suffered inveterate damage.