David Blatt and Tyronn Lue had never been NBA head coaches, but the latter has been a great fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the former was not.
Why is that? Why has Lue been successful where Blatt wasn’t?
“First of all, (Lue is) a down-to-earth person, and I think that’s why the situation works,” former NBA player and current NBA-TV analyst Dennis Scott said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I think the general manager, David Griffin, did an excellent job doing his research, talking to Jerry West, talking to Doc Rivers, talking to all the coaches Ty Lue had been around as a player. And then when Ty Lue retired, he had been around Doc Rivers as an assistant coach and he always kept a great relationship with Jerry West. So when you go try to get a new job and you have those two men on your resume, that’s what made this work.”
It also helps that Lue had been around Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce, among others.
“He can go to LeBron and say, ‘Look, you’re a great player, but you’re not playing the way you need to play for us to win a championship,’” Scott said. “That’s why they were able to win Game 7, in my opinion.
Lue, 39, played in the NBA for more than a decade. He won two championships with the Lakers and was a solid role player throughout his career and was known for his defense and toughness.
James can relate to that.
“Sometimes when you’re an ex-player and you’ve been in the fire and you caught an elbow when you set that screen, you know exactly what that player is going through,” Scott said. “I think that Ty Lue’s been able to tap into, like, ‘Look, LeBron, I’ve been there. Obviously I’ve never been the player that you are, but I’ve been around Shaq, I’ve been around other guys that’s been as good as you, and I know how hard they worked.’ I think that resonates with LeBron.”
Let’s also not forget that the narrative surrounding James has shifted dramatically in recent years. In 2012, the question was whether James could ever win an NBA title. In 2016, the question is whether he can catch Michael Jordan and become the greatest player of all time.
James is also the rare superstar who sometimes needs assurance and encouragement from others. Perhaps Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant didn’t need that, but James does. And, as it turns out, so did Magic Johnson, who was called “Tragic Magic” after making various mistakes in clutch situations in a seven-game loss to the Celtics in the 1984 Finals.
“People forget about that (because he’s) been so great (with everything),” Scott said. “He needed some encouragement then because everybody was so down on him. Everyone thought he could never do it again, but he needed a pat on his back. Hearing that from someone that large and that big of an icon lets me know we’re all human and every now and then we need someone to say, ‘Hey, everything’s going to be okay.’ And everything was okay to come back to win championships. You just never know when we’re going through something and you need a pat on your back to get through that day or get through that season.”
Check out the premiere of Dennis’s new show 3DTV on tomorrow at 12:30pm on NBA TV