Israel’s all in for NBA’s Cavaliers, Netanyahu tells coach David Blatt


(JTA) — Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contacted him to offer him Israel’s support in the NBA Finals.

“He said all of Israel is behind the Cavaliers,” Blatt said Sunday, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “That was great.

Blatt,  a dual U.S. and Israeli citizen, is in his first year guiding the Cavs, who will meet the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the best-of-7 championship series on Thursday in Oakland, California. LeBron James, a four-time Most Valuable Player who returned to his native Cleveland area following four seasons in Miami, leads Blatt’s club.

Blatt said he last spoke to Netanyahu last year after coaching Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague basketball championship. Blatt said he spoke with then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in 2012 after guiding the Russian Olympic team to a bronze medal.

“[T]here’s nothing I would like better than to hear from [President Barack] Obama,” Blatt said. “That sort of covers all the bases, wouldn’t it?”

Blatt grew up in Framingham, Mass., and immigrated to Israel in 1981 to play professional basketball and later coach after a career-ending injury.

Meanwhile, the Israeli news website Ynet reported that the Cavaliers are expected to announce that they will play against Blatt’s former team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, in an exhibition game in October. The Cavs have said they will not make any plans for the future until the end of the championship series.

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