Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James told reporters he was surprised by the team’s decision to fire head coach David Blatt on Friday afternoon.
James was reportedly not consulted on the decision to dismiss Blatt. Multiple reports indicated he was previously unaware Blatt would be fired, before finding out on Friday. He was asked by reporters on Saturday about his perceived impact on the team’s moves.
“That’s not my concern,” he said. “I found out about it just like every other player on this team at 3:30 yesterday. ... I think [GM David Griffin] was right on everything he said ... Like it or love it or hate it, we got to respect it.”
• JENKINS: High drama, high stakes: Cavs fire Blatt with NBA title in mind
New head coach Tyronn Lue signed a multi-year deal to replace Blatt, and James and his agent Rich Paul have reportedly been strong advocates of Lue becoming head coach in the past. Other reports have indicated Lue, a former NBA point guard, commanded more respect from players than Blatt, who joined the team having never coached at the NBA level despite a strong international coaching history.
“We’ve been friends since I was 17 years old,” James said of Lue. “But it ended today. ... He’s still the coach and I’m underneath him.”
• GOLLIVER: Inability to get on same page doomed LeBron-Blatt pairing
Cleveland Cavaliers betting on Tyronn Lue to elevate play
Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver explains why the firing of David Blatt, and subsequent promotion of Tyronn Lue may not make enough of an impact for the Cavaliers.
Blatt was hired to coach the Cavaliers in June 2014, about two weeks before James announced his decision to return to Cleveland after spending four years with the Miami Heat.
• MAHONEY: LeBron James’s imprint all over Cavs’ decision to fire Blatt
The Cavaliers host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night in their first game since Blatt’s dismissal.
- Jeremy Woo