Former Cavaliers coach David Blatt revealed Monday he was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis but says he plans to “continue my life as normally as possible” as he adapts to his new reality.
In a statement released by his current team, Olympiacos, the veteran coach said he learned a few months ago he has primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Though the disease manifests itself differently in different people, Blatt said his primary challenge is a weakness in his legs and he has been working through an exercise regimen to help him with strength and balance.
“Why did it happen? Well the reason why one suffers from this illness is unknown,” Blatt wrote. “Given no particular cause or explanation one is left to accept that it is what it is and to focus on making the best of any and all available resources to improve one’s condition. Today and going forward.
“It’s easy to fall into mental depression and physical lethargy. This fight is real and constant and non-ending as there is no cure for this disease, but it is not lethal. There are many that have even greater challenges and all must fight their own battles. All must have courage and determination and never give up attitudes to move forward and live life with the greatest quality possible. Forget the why in this case. It’s not an answerable question. focus on the next.”
Blatt, a Boston native, took over at Olympiacos in 2018 after two seasons with Darüşşafaka in Turkey. The 60-year-old has a long track record of international success highlighted by guiding Russia to the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics and leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to the EuroLeague championship in 2014.
He jumped from that triumph to his first NBA job that summer, joining LeBron James in Cleveland. The Cavaliers reached the NBA Finals in his first season, falling to fellow rookie coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, but Blatt quickly fell out of favor and was fired in January 2016 despite the Cavs boasting a 30-11 record at the time. His assistant Tyronn Lue then led Cleveland to the NBA title.
Though the NBA didn’t work out for Blatt, he is back in his comfort zone in Europe and has no plans to step away from the profession.
“I am a coach and my job is to lead and teach and inspire a lot of people,” he wrote. “Not being as agile or active doesn’t affect my ability to do those things. I am fortunate. I have great doctors trainers physical therapists and management that accept my disabilities and help me overcome. How could I possibly complain? I absolutely cannot and will not. It’s wasted effort and while I ask my players and staff to be the best version of themselves, I must ask and even demand from myself to do the same.”