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Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Blatt heading to NBA

June 12, 2014

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — David Blatt stepped down as coach of European club champion Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday, saying he wanted to pursue his dream of coaching in the NBA.

Blatt, 55, told a news conference he was weighing offers from unnamed teams and had “a few good options.” He said he expected to make a decision soon.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks and Golden State Warriors are all believed to be interested in hiring Blatt as an assistant, at least. He said various reports about him have been “mostly correct.”

Blatt, who grew up near Boston and played college ball at Princeton, has had a successful career coaching overseas. Last month, he led Maccabi to an upset win over Real Madrid in the Euroleague finals.

“I am leaving here not because I was asked to. The opposite is true, I was asked to stay, and offered the best possible conditions for such an event,” Blatt said. “But I just felt it is a move I wanted to make. It has been a dream of mine for almost forever to go and join a team in the NBA in some capacity. I wish I could have done it as a player. I wasn’t good enough. But now perhaps I’ll have that opportunity as a coach.”

Blatt capped his four seasons as coach by winning the Israeli Super League on Wednesday.

The victory over Real Madrid in the Euroleague final captured the imagination of the Israeli public, with tens of thousands of fans filling downtown Tel Aviv to welcome the team home from the tournament in Milan.

Blatt, a former Princeton point guard under Pete Carril, moved to Israel in 1981 after playing for the U.S. at the Maccabiah Games.

He had a successful playing career in the Israeli league before beginning coaching in 1993. From 2004-10 he coached at European clubs including Dynamo St Petersburg in Russia and Benetton Treviso in Italy. From 2006-12 he also coached Russia, which he led to a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.

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