David Blatt, Israel, and My Golden State of Mind

Loyalty is a not insignificant factor in one's decision about whom to support.

Yonatan Sredni

Arutz 7

For the record, I am a zionist. I made Aliyah from the US some 20 years ago, I served in the IDF, and I fly the Israeli flag proudly on Independence Day. I often eat falafel and enjoy a good shawarma. I am proud to be Israeli and I am proud of Israelis who make us proud - like basketball coach David Blatt.

I just didn’t want him to win the NBA championship - not this year, at least.

No, I have nothing personal against David Blatt. In fact I think he’s a great NBA rookie coach who accomplished a most amazing feat, taking the Cleveland Cavaliers (with a lot of credit to star player LeBron James, of course) to the NBA Finals in his first year on the job - and he’s a real ‘mentsch’. But unlike every other Israeli, I didn’t want him to win the title.

You see, I grew up in the Bay Area in Northern California, with only one NBA team close by, The Golden State Warriors (who play in Oakland), the very same franchise that Blatt’s Cavs had to face, so you can understand my predicament.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t yet a Warrior fan 40 years ago when they won their last title in the 1974-75 season. I grew up rooting for the Warrior teams of the 1980’s and 90’s, losing teams that endured one long 18 year stretch with only one playoff appearance - and this in a league where more than 50% of the teams qualify for postseason play.

But while my youth was filled with hopes for Warrior teams led by players like Eric ‘Sleepy’ Floyd and future Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, the current Warrior team is led by young sharpshooters Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, both of whom are sons of former NBA players (Dell Curry & Mychal Thompson) who played when I was growing up.

Should I have rooted for Blatt’s team, simply because the coach was one of us?
Still, living in Israel I am chastised for rooting for my hometown team, but should I have rooted for Blatt’s team, simply because the coach was one of us?

I see their point, but consider this, if it were not for Warriors coach Steve Kerr, David Blatt might not have been in this position at all.  When you look back, Blatt had some pretty decent options last summer.

Originally he gave Steve Kerr, at the time the newly-crowned head coach of the Golden State Warriors, a verbal agreement to join his coaching staff after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship.

At the same time, the Cavaliers were interested in Blatt for the head gig and reached out to his representatives for an interview request. In a bit of an awkward situation, Blatt went to Kerr and asked for permission to seek the position. Kerr approved, even though he didn't have to.

"Had Steve not been willing to allow me to interview for the job, I'd be in Golden State right now," Blatt said. "It was by his good graces and the good graces of the Warriors to allow me to interview for the job because basically I had agreed already to go there."

The rest is history. Blatt landed the Cavaliers job and we had a Finals featuring two first-year NBA coaches in Blatt and Kerr, the first time that's happened since the inaugural season in 1947.

But here’s the thing, if I were to ask David Blatt himself what I should do, root for him because he is Israeli or root for the team I grew up cheering for, he’d probably say I should support the team I always did - because that’s what loyal fans do.

In fact, Israel is a country of immigrants. We don’t drop our cultural traditions when we come to Israel, we try to preserve them. So, although I moved from the Golden State to the Jewish State, I still root for the Warriors.

And as I celebrate the fact that my team, The Golden State Warriors, won the NBA championship, I’ll also raise a glass of Maccabi beer in a toast to a true warrior - David Blatt.

The writer has an MA in Creative Writing and works in PR at Blonde 2.0