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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Like most kids growing up near Boston, David Blatt lived and breathed the Celtics. They were his team, the only team. Pressing a transistor radio against his ear, Blatt listened as legendary announcer Johnny Most described how Bill Russell grabbed rebounds and when John Havlicek "stole the ball!" At an early age, he was hooked on hoops. "I kind of had that NBA dream in my ear and in my heart," Blatt said. And now, its back in his life. Blatt was introduced Wednesday as the new coach of the Cavaliers, a team in transition as it prepares to select first in the NBA draft and make a strong run at LeBron James, the soon-to-be free agent who has several other teams making moves to try and get him. Blatt spent the past two decades in Israel, where he developed into a top international coach. Now, after winning numerous titles across Europe and guiding Russia to a bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, Blatt is ready to take on the challenge of coaching on pro basketballs biggest stage. It was time to make the jump, and the Cavs helped Blatts overseas leap. "Absolutely its a challenge," Blatt said of his upcoming transition. "But Ive got to tell you, the game is not so different as people think it is. Its a little bit longer here. Perhaps the level of athleticism and speed all around the court is different. But its not like playing baseball and soccer. Its still the same game." Blatt isnt hung up on labels or perceptions. He doesnt consider himself an Israeli coach, European coach or any type for that matter. He doesnt favouroffence over defence. "Im a basketball coach," he said, "someone who through teaching and working with people and getting the most out of my players and staff has always seen the success of the team as paramount." The Cavaliers spent nearly six weeks looking for their third coach in three years before hiring Blatt, who recently resigned as coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv, a squad he led to this years Euroleague title. Cavs general manager David Griffin said Blatt was one of "five or six" candidates who had full-blown interviews and the club contacted as many as 11 coaches. "Hes truly the embodiment of every characteristic we most sought in a coach," Griffin said. "Hes a guy who has passion, creativity and intelligence. As a coach, hes able to adjust in ways that make him special because of those things. He lives those things as a man as well. Because of all that, the players all feel him in a very powerful way. David is an authentic leader." The team hired finalist Tyronn Lue as an associate head coach under Blatt. Blatt understands theres a responsibility that comes with being the first at anything. He believes other European coaches are as qualified to coach in the NBA, but hes the one getting the chance. "I know Im carrying the torch, and I hope like hell I dont drop it," he said. "I dont plan to. It does mean a great deal." Blatt was charming, convincing and self-effacing during a 30-minute news conference at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Blatt said he had previous chances to come to the NBA, but the timing wasnt right. "Somebody told me the reason I did it is because I missed Boston lobster and macaroni and cheese," he cracked. "Theres something to that, honestly." Blatt is taking over a team that went 33-49 last season and underachieved for Mike Brown, who was fired on May 12, ending his second stint in Cleveland. Blatt believes the Cavs have the pieces to be a contender, and that its up to him to put them together. And that would be the case in any country. "I find a group of guys that want to be coached, that want to learn, that care about winning," he said. "Those are things I have to emphasize with them, that I have to strengthen and help them understand the right way to do it. "Ive coached enough great players in my life to know when guys are happy playing together and are seeing that doing it the right way brings and fosters the spirit you need to win, it doesnt make a difference where you coach." Blatt feels hes finally where he belongs. He had a great run overseas, but it was time to come back to where he started. It was time to come home. "I was happy and fulfilled in what I was doing," he said. "But I never, for a moment, lost the hope that I would come full circle and make my way back to the places where I grew up and to be part of something that was so much a part of me." Torii Hunter Jersey . Best has been bothered by concussion problems and hasnt played since Oct. 16, when the Lions lost to San Francisco. After starting 5-0, Detroit has lost four of six, beginning with that game against the 49ers. Kirby Puckett Jersey . Julien coached the Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship in 2010-11 and is the longest serving coach in consecutive seasons in the teams history. Claude is one of the top coaches in the NHL and has consistently shown a passion for winning, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Sunday in announcing the signing. https://www.cheaptwins.com/982t-sean-poppen-jersey-twins.html . -- Canadian womens amateur golf champion Brooke Henderson is a little less starstruck as she prepares for her second career appearance at an LPGA Tour major event. LaMonte Wade Jr. Twins Jersey . Lack made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Canucks blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0 in the first post-Olympic game for both teams night. Gary Gaetti Jersey .TV Series: Duck Dynasty.FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno Smith believes he is still the answer.Yes, he knows he needs to get a lot better, and fast.But he also thinks the New York Jets search for a franchise quarterback, a mostly fruitless task since the days of Joe Namath, could end right in front of their eyes.Despite the boos, increasing criticisms and calls for Michael Vick.Well, thats still to be set, Smith said when asked Wednesday if hes a franchise-type QB.Obviously, its my goal, but weve got to work toward that and were still working toward that and I do believe that I am. But weve just got to continue to work on it.Rex Ryan and the Jets are sticking with Smith, and their public support for him hasnt wavered. Smith knows he needs to deliver, though. With five interceptions and two lost fumbles in four games, there needs to be improvement Sunday at San Diego.Otherwise, it could be time for Smith to sit and Vick to come in a€” a scenario some considered inevitable even before the season began.Its about wins and losses, Smith said. Weve got to win more games. Ultimately, thats the only thing. I dont think its about anything other than that.Smith insists the pressure isnt getting to him, but yelling an expletive at a heckler after the Jets 24-17 loss to Detroit last Sunday suggested theres perhaps a slight crack in what had previously been considered thick skin. He expects to get a letter from the NFL about that, and a fine, too.Always be above the situation, he said. Never let people get to you. Never let anyones words affect you in that manner. Its something Ive already known, but Ive just got to handle those situations better.A few minutes later, though, Smith bristled when he was asked if theres any value in playing Vick for a quarter in a game a€” which means Smith, obviously, would be sent to the sideline.I dont know what youre trying to lead to with that question, he said. Maybe thats your opinion. That is not a question.When the reporter suggested putting Vick into a game could provide a spark, Smith responded: As a spark? What do you mean a spark? Weve already put him in.Vick has seen limited snaps as Smiths backup, throwing one incomplete pass and rushing once for 3 yards. He didnt get into the game against the Lions, even as fans at MeetLife chanted for him to replace Smith.ddddddddddddSo, Smith was asked if it could help the Jets by putting Vick in for not just a play or two, but an entire quarter a€” and he, predictably and understandably, got testy.It doesnt make sense, Smith said. What team do you see doing that?Well, none.The bottom line, though, for the Jets is this: They are committed, for now, to Smith. They want to find out for sure whether he is that franchise-type quarterback, and so far theyve had 20 games to evaluate him.With Miami, Buffalo and New England all 2-2 and the Jets 1-3, the AFC East appears to be wide open. So, Ryan needs to find the delicate balance between developing the young quarterback and preserving the season.After previously saying it would be a Jets decision, Ryan also clarified that any lineup changes are his call entirely a€” including whether Smith should be benched for Vick.I just thought it was so obvious that, obviously, in my position as the head coach you are going to make decisions during a game a€” who else is going to make them? Ryan said. Im not going to call (former lineman) Randy Rasmussen up and say, Hey, Randy what do you think? Or anybody.That falls on my shoulders, and I think its obvious. What became obvious is that I should have handled that question differently.Smith said he hasnt lost any confidence during this rough stretch, and his focus is on the Chargers a€” not what is being said outside the facility.I never needed to be reassured, Smith said. Ive always had confidence in my coaches and I believe theyve always had confidence in me. Theyve expressed those things, but I dont get caught up in that.That said, Smith knows what the statistics look like and where the Jets stack up in the standings. He also realizes that how he plays Sunday could go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the season. For him, and the rest of the team.My progression is, obviously, Im getting better, but its all about wins and losses and Im trying my best to help us win these games, he said. So Im going to be extra critical on myself this week to make sure that I have to be nearly perfect in order to help us win games.___AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL ' ' '


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