Tiger of the Week: David Blatt ’81

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(Courtesy Benetton Basket)

David Blatt ’81′s crowning achievement in basketball came in September 2007, when the American-born Israeli coach led the Russian national team to the European championship, shocking Spain in the tournament final.

 
This week, Blatt’s squad again takes aim at one of international basketball’s giants, facing the United States in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Championships in Turkey Sept. 9. The Russians are 5-1 in tournament play, while the Americans are a perfect 6-0.
 
In a New York Times profile Sept. 6, former Princeton coach Pete Carril and Tiger teammates Craig Robinson ’83 and Steve Mills ’81 explained some of the traits that have made Blatt one of Europe’s most successful pro coaches.
 
“He was a typical Princeton guy in a sense,” said Mills, the former president of Madison Square Garden. “He was an incredibly smart player and understood everything Coach was trying to get us to do on the court.”

After playing professionally in Israel, Blatt made the transition to coaching, finding success with some of international basketball’s top franchises, including Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), Benetton Treviso (Italy), and Dynamo Moscow (Russia). His success with the Russian national team has added another dimension to his résumé.

Does Blatt have a future as an NBA coach? When the Times posed that question, he said that it "would take a lot of courage" for a team to hire him, since all of his coaching experience has come outside the United States. In 2007, the Massachusetts-native gave a similar answer to PAW, adding, "I would love to go back to the States for a period of time, and more than that I would love for my family to go there, to get the American connection and the culture that I grew up with. But we’ll just have to see where it goes.” 

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.

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