Where David Blatt sits on the bench, success tends to follow, and he is proving it again at Darussafaka Istanbul. In just two seasons with the Turkish club, Coach Blatt led his team to the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague playoffs last season and, despite undergoing deep roster changes over the summer, Darussafaka has made it to the 7DAYS EuroCup Finals with a chance to win its first title of any kind since 1962.
Blatt enjoyed a lengthy playing career as a point guard, first under Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril at Princeton University, and then in Israel's top division. While still a player, he coached women's and junior teams. Once he hung up his sneakers, Blatt started coaching men at Hapoel Galil Elyon and first came to Maccabi Tel Aviv as Pini Gershon's assistant in 1999. He played a pivotal role in recruiting the players who helped build a new Maccabi dynasty and was the architect of the team's defense. He collected a pair of Final Four titles as a Maccabi assistant and led Maccabi to the 2002 Final Four in his first stint at the head of the team's bench. Soon, Blatt left to coach in Russia, Italy, Turkey and Greece. He returned to Maccabi in 2010 and by the end of his first season back, had the club challenging again for the EuroLeague title as a 2011 finalist in Barcelona. A year later, he and Maccabi missed returning to the Final Four by a single basket in Game 5 of the playoffs against defending champion, Panathinaikos Athens.
In addition to his success at the club level, Blatt spent six summers as the Russian national team boss. He led Team Russia to the EuroBasket 2007 title and bronze medals at both EuroBasket 2011 and the 2012 Olympic Games. In his six seasons as Maccabi's head coach, Blatt delivered the club three Final Four appearances while coming within one victory of two more. Against all odds he led Maccabi to the EuroLeague title in 2014, first winning an epic playoffs series against Olimpia Milan without home-court advantage and then downing CSKA Moscow and Real Madrid to lift the trophy. Blatt went on to coach Cleveland in the NBA and led it to an 83-40 record, the sixth-best winning percentage in NBA history (67.5% of wins). He helped Cleveland reach the NBA Finals in 2015.
Blatt’s overflowing cupboard also includes winning the 2005 FIBA EuroChallenge with Dynamo St. Petersburg; the 2012 Adriatic League, five Israeli championships and six Israeli Cups with Maccabi; and an Italian League and Italian Cup with Benetton Treviso. He was also named the Euroleague Basketball Alexander Gomelskiy Coach of the Year for the 2013-14 season. With a EuroLeague crown, a EuroBasket title and an Olympic medal to his name, Blatt now targets the 2017-18 EuroCup, which would put him in the rare company of just one previous head coach who combined those accomplishments, Dusan Ivkovic.