Often times, bonds between a coach and his or her players live on long after their tenure together. Hours of practice, trips to opposing schools, and simply lending a listening ear help strengthen the relationship between the two.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar and Akron, Ohio native LeBron James holds a special place in his heart for all of his former coaches. However, one coach in particular had a major impact on James’ life as an adolescent.
Growing up in Akron, Ohio comes with its own set of unique obstacles. James’ former Head Coach at St. Vincent – St. Mary’s High School, Keith Dambrot, who is now Head Coach for Akron University’s boys basketball program, knew the struggles that inner city student athletes sometimes face.
In an interview with Amos Barshad of Bleacher Report, Dambrot said of James:
You can’t be afraid to coach him. Like all great players, he wants to be coached. I still tell him the truth whenever I talk to him. I think that’s what you do with people you care about: tell ’em the truth. And whenever he’s had any slippage, I know he’s got in his heart, and in his mind, goodness.”
Dambrot touched on the firing of former Cavaliers Head Coach David Blatt in his interview, saying:
You can’t do anything without LeBron’s blessing; it doesn’t take Albert Einstein to figure that out. But LeBron’s never said a negative thing to me about Coach Blatt. And that’s the honest-to-God truth.”
Blatt, who now coaches in the Turkish Basketball Super League with Darüşşafaka Spor Kulübü, reflected on his time spent with the defending NBA champions, telling Barshad:
I wish that I had had the knowledge and the experience that I have now when I first came in. I think I could have done a much better job. I know I could have. And I probably could have handled everything a lot easier. But, I didn’t! I went through what I went through. I know in my heart I could have done more. I could have done a better job. Although, I didn’t do a BAD job.”
Bashad asked Blatt if there was anything specific that you would have done differently. Blatt replied:
There’s a lot of things. A lot of things. Basketball things. Personal things. There’s a LOT of things I could have done if I had more experience. But, again, I didn’t do too bad.”
Blatt did a fine job with the Cavaliers. In fact, in the 2014-15 NBA season, Blatt coached the Cavs to a second-best record in the Eastern Conference and their second NBA Finals appearance as a franchise.
Being on the coaching staff in any sport comes with loads of responsibility – and a lot of pressure to perform. These two coaches made the most of their stints with The King.