A prominent sports commentator in Greece said the decision by David Blatt to forfeit a recent game with Olympiacos, his current team, was made because the former Cavaliers coach “has Jewish blood inside him.”
Vangelis Alexandris, who made the racist remarks in an interview last week, had a nearly 50-year career as a professional basketball coach and player in Greece until last year. He coached Iraklis Thessaloniki of the Greek A2 League, the country’s second division, in 2018.
Olympiacos players walked out of a February game after the first half in protest of what they believed to be an unfair whistle from the officiating crew. The owner of Panathinaikos, whose team was officially credited with a 20-0 victory, said after the game that the forfeit was planned in advance because Olympiacos didn’t have enough money to pay the salaries of players. Former University of Louisville and Boston Celtics coach Rick Pitino, currently with Panathinaikos, said he was “very disappointed” with the comments of his team’s owner, Dimitris Giannakopoulos.
David Blatt denied any involvement in his players’ decision to walk out of the game, let alone plan the protest in advance.
Alexandris’s bigoted remarks came in a subsequent radio appearance about the game.
“Blatt thinks he knows everything, this is nothing new,” he said. “But if we consider he has Jewish blood inside him, I think he is lying about what he said.”
David Blatt, of Israeli-American descent, was hired by the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014, days before LeBron James re-signed with the Wine and Gold. Despite leading the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in his first NBA season, he was fired midway through the 2015-16 campaign. His successor, Tyronn Lue, was fired during a season as well, albeit under a very different set of circumstances. Lue was fired in late October of 2018 after an 0-6 start to the current NBA regular season.