(JTA) — A well-known sports commentator in Greece said that the American-Israeli coach David Blatt was lying about his Athens team’s controversial forfeiting of a match because Blatt “has Jewish blood in him.”
Vangelis Alexandris, a former coach of Thessaloniki’s Iraklis team, said this in an interview last week for the Sportdog site.
Blatt, who coached the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers into the NBA Finals in 2015, began coaching Athens’ Olympiacos Piraeus team last year. Last month, Olympiacos players walked out of a game after the first half in an apparent protest of how the referees were calling fouls. The opposing team’s owner said that the forfeit was planned in advance, because Olympiacos ownership “cannot pay their players.”
Former University of Louisville coach Rick Pitino, disgraced after an NCAA scandal involving bribes to players, was coaching the opposing team Panathinaikos, and said he was “very disappointed.”
Blatt told reporters last week that he had no idea about his team’s decision to walk out.
“Blatt thinks he knows everything, this is nothing new. But if we consider he has Jewish blood inside him, I think he is lying about what he said,” Alexandris said of Blatt.
The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece on Monday condemned Alexandris’ remark that “contains all the ignoble antisemitic stereotypes that perpetuate hatred against the Jews,” their statement read.