INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — David Blatt doesn't consider himself an Israeli coach, European coach or NBA coach.
Cleveland Cavaliers new head coach David Blatt speaks to the media during a news conference Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Independence, Ohio. Blatt spent the past two decades coaching in Israel, where he built a reputation as one of the international game’s top coaches. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
"I'm a basketball coach," he said.
Blatt, who spent the past two decades winning titles across Europe, was introduced on Wednesday as the new coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team in transition and one preparing to select first in Thursday night's draft.
Blatt led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Euroleague championship this season, and the 55-year-old guided Russia to a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
He was hired last week by the Cavs, who spent 39 days looking to replace Mike Brown, fired following a 33-49 season. After speaking to as many as 11 candidates, the team selected Blatt.
Born in Massachusetts, Blatt, who played at Princeton, is the first coach to make the move from Europe to the NBA.
"I know I'm carrying the torch, and I hope like hell I don't drop it," he said.
Blatt arrives at an interesting time for the Cavs. They own the No. 1 overall selection in the draft and are expected to make a strong push to sign LeBron James, who opted out of the final two years of his Miami contract on Tuesday and is a free agent.
Blatt believes he's inheriting a quality roster and believes the Cavs are capable of "doing some special things."