When the star-studded Cleveland Cavaliers stumbled to a 19-20 start, the calls for David Blatt’s head were impossible to ignore.

The rookie NBA coach survived, of course, and helped lead the Cavs to the best record in the League since Jan.13. He’s the first coach since Pat Riley in 1982 to reach the NBA Finals in his first go-around.

LeBron James, who took a while to warm to Blatt, gives plenty of credit to Blatt for skillfully navigating the treacherous waters in his first year.

Per the NEOMG:

“We knew that a lot of people were going to say things that, you know, didn’t mean much, but that’s just what they have to do,” James said. “That’s what helps sales. That’s the, people love reading the negative things more than the positive things, so I think he’s handled his situation unbelievably.

 

“Being a rookie coach in the NBA, being able to take his team to the Finals, I think he’s done a helluva job.”

 

Kyrie Irving described Blatt’s positive traits as “being able to listen and be receptive to what the players are saying and going out and making changes. […] “If he feels like it’s what’s best for the team he’s the coach and he’s going to make a decision and we all respect that,” Irving said. “It hasn’t been anyone stepping on anybody’s toes. Obviously there has been some disagreements here and there, but what team doesn’t have disagreements?”