LeBron James ‘emasculated’ Cavaliers coach David Blatt, says ESPN’s senior NBA writer

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Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) stands on the court in front of head coach David Blatt during the first half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 7, 2015. | AP Photo/Ben Margot

LeBron James emasculated Cavaliers coach David Blatt during the NBA Finals, reports ESPN’s lead NBA writer Marc Stein.

In what Stein described as “an unflattering look for an all-time great,” James time and again openly disregarded Blatt’s decisions, Stein wrote Thursday.

From Stein’s report:

I saw it from close range in my role as sideline reporter through the Finals for ESPN Radio. LeBron essentially calling timeouts and making substitutions. LeBron openly barking at Blatt after decisions he didn’t like. LeBron huddling frequently with Lue and so often looking at anyone other than Blatt. There was LeBron, in one instance I witnessed from right behind the bench, shaking his head vociferously in protest after one play Blatt drew up in the third quarter of Game 5, amounting to the loudest nonverbal scolding you could imagine. Which forced Blatt, in front of his whole team, to wipe the board clean and draw up something else. [snip] How is any fellow Cavalier going to treat Blatt with something resembling reverence when LeBron treats him like a bench ornament in plain view? How can LeBron publicly laud his own leadership, as he so often does, when setting that sort of tone?

You’ll recall, of course, that James ignored the play call from Blatt in Game 4 against the Bulls, and openly discussed his decision to do so.

“To be honest, the play that was drawn up, I scratched it,” James said. “I just told coach, ‘Give me the ball.’ We’re either going to go to overtime or I’m going to win it for us. It’s that simple.

“I was supposed to take the ball out. I told coach: ‘There’s no way I’m taking the ball out, unless I can shoot it over the backboard and it goes in.’ I told him: ‘Have somebody else take the ball out, give me the ball, and everybody get out of the way.”

That plan, of course, worked, and the Cavs won the game and the series on James’ back.

Rumors about Blatt’s job security continued to swirl during the postseason run, despite it being his first season and despite his Cavs making the NBA Finals.

Blatt, as Stein writes, brought some of it on himself with his play-calling and questionable personnel decisions.

“But I repeat:” Stein wrote. “LeBron’s otherworldly performance in this series, on top of everything he’s done for Northeast Ohio just by returning to the area and revitalizing it beyond words, doesn’t make any of this stuff palatable.”

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