Behind former Israeli-League legendary basketball coach Ralph Klein, current and ex-coaches Pini Gershon, Tzvika Sherf, Brad Greenberg, Oded Katash, and Muli Katzurin are among the list for Israel's All-Time Most Winning Coaches.
However, in a race for the All-Time No. 1 seeded coach from a percentage viewpoint, Klien, with 76.3%, comes in second after Maccabi Tel Aviv's prime possession -- head coach David Blatt.
Blatt, 54, the oldest among the Euroleague Final Four competing coaches with a 76.7% winning percentage over 262 domestic competition appearances.
After exceeding all Euro-expectations and outperforming varsity powerhouse CSKA Moscow in the semifinals of Europe's most elite competition, Blatt is 40 minutes and one victory away from leading one of Maccabi's greatest underdog teams to a European title.
In honor of tonight's showdown at the Mediolanum Forum against Euroleague winning-favorites Real Madrid, Eurobasket caught up with coach Blatt for an unorthodox one-on-one.
What's your daily schedule on game-day?
06:00-07:00 - "When playing in the Euroleague I normally wake up between six to seven AM, naturally, without an alarm clock. I take one of my kids to school and desperately battle the endless traffic leading to Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. It's a nightmare."
08:00-12:00 - "Between 08:30-09:00, depending on traffic I'd arrive at the arena and start analyzing game-film with the coaching staff until the players arrive for practice."
12:00-17:00 - "Following practice we all attend a team lunch and from there the players and staff fall out their separate ways. I return to Nokia Arena for a little more game preparation and rest in our terrible 'coach's room'. Don't get me wrong, in terms of respect and professionalism Maccabi are the best in Europe. However, when it comes to staff treatment? Maccabi are among the lower ranked teams in Europe. You've seen our coach's room, you've been inside. You know what I'm talking about. We're four coaches (Guy Goodes, Alon Stein, Nikola Vujcic and Blatt) in a pit with no window, no air, underground, and with a very little hope."
17:00-19:00 - "After my nap I'd get a 90 minutes workout in, shower, and go over some final touches before tip-off."
19:00-21:00 - "Roughly two hours before game-time, when people start rolling in, I suffer from anxiety because our coach's room turns into the Grand Central Station. Every possible person in the world finds a reason to pass by our pit. It's not always convenient, but it's part the Maccabi experience. Again, with regards to respect and professionalism - Maccabi are No. 1. Still, maintenance isn't their strong side and it's my business to note why the glass is not full."
Game-03:30 - "After the game I have 101 responsibilities, whether it's to media, management, players, sponsors and the random requests by everybody on the planet. You don't know where it begins and can't imagine where it will end, but it's relatively pleasant because when at home with normally win. When the arena clears out I relax and check up on the other Euroleague games and head home after 01:00. It's much harder for me to sleep after games rather then before because of the adrenalin rush, so I'll probably fall asleep between 03:00-03:30."
There's an assumption that with previous Maccabi coaches, management were easy to pull the trigger. True?
"I disagree. I believe things at Maccabi have changed and the management and ownership have developed patience and a long term perspective. It might have been true in the past, but things have changed for the better."
What are your weaknesses?
"That's a job interview question. Normally you would expect of me to turn my weaknesses into an advantage. I wish I was able to sleep better. I'd come to work more energized."
What do you need to improve as a coach?
"There's a special saying by John Wooden that I use quite often. 'It's what you learn after you know it all that counts.' There are many aspects in the game I can improve on, it's a process that only ends when I retire."
When did you last cry?
"They will laugh at me at home, but I'm not a cryer. It's hard for me to cry. I cry inside. Normally what gets me choked up are my kids."
What are topics of conversation at a Blatt dinner table?
"A lot of basketball. We're a family of sports before anything. Even those who didn't play the game were always around players. Basketball isn't the only topic of conversation but definitely the most popular one.
Is there room for a foreign coach at Maccabi?
"To bring a rookie coach, a first timer, to Maccabi is very difficult. Even for me, when I coached Maccabi for the first time it was very tough and I came from within the system after being an assistant during one of the greatest eras in the history of the organization. Being an Israeli is an advantage when coaching Maccabi because this club is part of the Israeli society and you have to breath that society and live it in order to succeed. There's a special saying in Hebrew, 'everyone has a replacement.' Would it be easy finding one for me? I'm not sure. Not sure at all."
How do you scout players?
"I'll tell you a very special story about Nate Huffman. At the time, (then Maccabi head coach Pini Gershon) asked me to watch film on Croatian Velimir Perasovic who played for Spanish Fuenlabrada. We didn't have DVD's or stuff like that. I was using old A-Tracks for scouting. So I'm watching the game and I see this white dude whom I've never heard of doing pretty amazing stuff. I immediately called Pini and said, 'listen, Perasovic is good but I'm telling you we have to sign this white guy nobody ever heard of by the name of Nate Huffman.' Pini responds saying, 'who? What's a Huffman?' I told him to watch the tape. An hour and a half later we completed one biggest steals in European basketball history. Nowadays scouting is different. You have scouts, management personnel with their own opinions and another million different advisors, it's really complicated."
What was your most heartbreaking loss?
"I've had many disappointments and tough loses. The one game I can't seem to let go of, the one that is hardest for me to swallow, was last year's Israeli-League championship game against Maccabi Haifa. You need to understand that this was my first-ever playoffs loss. I was 28-0 in my career in the Israeli playoffs. Man, that was a tough loss."
What was your greatest victory while coaching Maccabi?
"There's a very specific game that people don't really talk about. It was during my first coaching season at Maccabi. We had a really tough season but we came one game away from qualifying got the Euroleague Final Four. Our last game, which we had to win by five-or-more point to advance was in Spain against Vitoria, then Tau Ceramica. The Vitoria team we lost to twice this season is nothing compared to Tau's 2002 squad. That was their All-Time Dream Team. They had Jose Calderon, Andres Nocioni, Luis Scola, Fabricio Oberto, and Elmer Bennett. We got to Vitoria and blew them out by 29 points, 94-65. It was the most unforgettable game I ever coached. I'll never forget it."
Which player was most difficult to see leave Maccabi?
"I'm sorry we couldn't have kept Richard Hendrix. Keith Langford was outstanding, Jeremy Pargo was great, but what hurt me most, what caused me the most pain as a coach was the injury for Doron Perkins and that fact that we couldn't keep him. Doron was our Most Valuable Player. Not Sofo Schortsanitis, not Hednrix, nor were Chuck Edison or Pargo -- Perkins was one of the most fearless, greatest warriors and biggest winners I ever coached. What happened to him was a tragedy. If he hadn't gotten injured we would've won the 2011 Euroleague championship. I guarantee it. He was our defensive matchup for Dimitris Diamantidis. Perkins was a killer and I'm still hurting over his injury."
What are your thoughts on rumors linking you to the NBA?
"Because I have one of greatest position in the world, I don't eat sleep or breath the NBA. This could change in the near future, but the NBA is very much an issue of timing and connections. There are many good coaches in the United States so nobody is waiting at my front door asking me to become a coach or an assistant in the NBA. On the other hand, I'm not really chasing it either, but that could change in about a month."
Where do you see yourself coaching first: in the NBA or the Israeli national-team?
"In the NBA."
Which players do you regret not coaching?
"That's a good question. Arvydas Sabonis, Trajan Langdon, Luis Scola and Tyus Edney."
Who throughout history would you choose to dine with?
"Mahatma Gandhi. I'd like to know how he brought so many people with hate and disrespect together. From the basketball world? I would kill to sit at Red Auerbach's Chinese restaurant in Washington. He would sit with a close circle of people and I'd love to be part of that parliament."
As of today, EA7 Emporio Armani Milano President, Livio Proli, and Alessandro Gentile (200-G/F-92) mutually agreed on a solution that will allow the player to finish the remaining part of this season in a different club. EA7 Emporio Armani Milano thanks Alessandro for his great contribution and wishes him to find the right path for his expectations and potential. Alessandro Gentile desires to thank from the deep of his heart Mr. Giorgio Armani for giving him the opportunities received d... [read more]
As of today, EA7 Emporio Armani Milano President, Livio Proli, and Alessandro Gentile (200-G/F-92) mutually agreed on a solution that will allow the player to finish the remaining part of this season in a different club.
EA7 Emporio Armani Milano thanks Alessandro for his great contribution and wishes him to find the right path for his expectations and potential.
Alessandro Gentile desires to thank from the deep of his heart Mr. Giorgio Armani for giving him the opportunities received during the years spent in his basketball project, the Olimpia organization for the time and the victories and finally all the Olimpia fans for the love they showed to him during his time in Milan.
Brown's double-double lands him Player of the Week award - 4 days ago
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29-year old forward Derrick Brown (203-F-87) had a very impressive game in the last round for Anadolu Efes and receives a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 10. He had a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while his team beat Maccabi T-A (5-5) 86-77. Anadolu Efes is placed at 7th position in Euroleague. Anadolu Efes is a typical solid league team placed somewhere in the middle or a little bit lower in the standings. They need more victories to improve their 5-5 reco... [read more]
29-year old forward Derrick Brown (203-F-87) had a very impressive game in the last round for Anadolu Efes and receives a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 10. He had a double-double of 22 points and 12 rebounds, while his team beat Maccabi T-A (5-5) 86-77. Anadolu Efes is placed at 7th position in Euroleague. Anadolu Efes is a typical solid league team placed somewhere in the middle or a little bit lower in the standings. They need more victories to improve their 5-5 record. It's Brown's second year at Anadolu Efes and it's hard to imagine this team without him. Derrick Brown averages this season 13.5ppg and 6.6rpg.
Second best performed player last round was Nicolo Melli (205-PF-91) of Brose Bask.. He is Italian forward in his 2nd season at Brose Bask.. In the last game Melli recorded impressive 26 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Bad luck as Brose Bask. was edged by the higher-ranked CSKA (#1, 9-1) 90-88. Brose Bask. are still at the very bottom. 8 lost games are too many comparing to just two victories Brose Bask. managed to get this year. Melli is well-known at Brose Bask. and he already established his position as one of the team's leaders.
Third place about best performers goes to guard Keith Langford (193-SG-83) of Unics (#14). Langford scored 25 points and passed four assists. He was a key player of Unics, leading his team to a 100-79 easy win against slightly higher-ranked EA7 Armani (#13, 4-6). The chances of Unics not to end season at such low position in the league, however are less than slim as they have already lost 7 games, recording just three victories. With bigger assistance of his teammates, Langford could try to bring Unics' a little bit higher in the standings. Langford has individually a great season in Euroleague. After 10 games, he made it on the list of the league's leaders in points with 23.2ppg (best scorer).
Other top performing players last week: 4. Tyler Honeycutt (203-F-90) of Anadolu Efes - 21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists 5. Tibor Pleiss (217-C-89) of Galatasaray - 16 points and 11 rebounds 6. Antanas Kavaliauskas (208-C-84) of Zalgiris - 20 points and 4 rebounds 7. Daniel Theis (204-PF-92) of Brose Bask. - 19 points and 9 rebounds 8. Milko Bjelica (207-F/C-84) of Crvena Zvezda - 19 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists 9. Milos Teodosic (195-PG-87) of CSKA - 31 points and 8 assists 10. Will Clyburn (201-F-90) of Darussafaka - 21 points and 5 rebounds
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
Fenerbahce pen contract extension with Zeljko Obradovic - 4 days ago
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Zeljko Obradovic and Fenerbahce have agreed on terms of contract extension. The new deal is for three season. The Serbian specialist took over Fenerbahce back in 2013. He was named All-Turkish League Coach of the Year back in 2016. He led the team to the Turkish League titles in 2014 and 2016. He also steered the Istanbul powerhouse to EuroLeague Final Four in 2015 and 2016. [read more]
Zeljko Obradovic and Fenerbahce have agreed on terms of contract extension. The new deal is for three season. The Serbian specialist took over Fenerbahce back in 2013. He was named All-Turkish League Coach of the Year back in 2016. He led the team to the Turkish League titles in 2014 and 2016. He also steered the Istanbul powerhouse to EuroLeague Final Four in 2015 and 2016.
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