Former Ohio State guard Scoonie Penn, who spent a decade playing overseas, joined SiriusXM NBA Radio this weekend to talk about his former coach and current Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, David Blatt.
Penn felt that the situation in Cleveland – a young roster including four former No. 1 overall draft picks and the recently signed LeBron James aiming to turn around a rough several years for the organization – was tailor made for Blatt.
“At the end of the day, the bottom line is basketball, for one, and two, you wanna win,” Penn said. “And one thing I’ve learned, in not just basketball but in life, period, is everyone wants to win, and people do not mind playing for a winner. They do not mind playing extra hard for someone who has winning in mind just as much as they do. And I think that’s the attitude and mentality [Blatt] has. Now, he has a guy like LeBron James who has that attitude, and now he’s with an organization like Cleveland who needs that attitude. So I think it’s a good fit.”
Blatt, according to Penn, will have to adjust to the nature of an NBA player compared to the nature of a Euroleague player.
Understand that guys in the NBA, it’s a different lifestyle. Not just in the basketball game – I think on the court, he’ll be able to deal with it. It’s just, how do you maintain guys off the court in their lives. Overseas, you have somewhat of an opportunity to monitor what guys do pretty much. It’s a lot like college. You eat dinner together on the road, you get up, have breakfast together, you have lunches together, you do a lot of things together as a team overseas. But in the NBA, after practice, guys, you go do your own thing. Guys really are individuals. You land in a city; if a guy wants to go hang out at night, he hangs out at night. Overseas, they kind of monitor that a little bit more. So I think that’s one thing he’s going to have to understand, and make an adjustment to, is that these guys here are a little different as far as their personal lives. Understand, that “I’m dealing with guys who are in the spotlight all the time, and in the public eye, and in the newspapers, and how do I take that and rein these guys back in, and have them focus from game to game, night to night.”
That said, Penn pointed out, Blatt knows what he’s walking into. He also dealt with plenty of pressures overseas that coaches don’t normally deal with in the NBA; for example, a fan base that demands perfection every night – “If you lose one game, it’s like the end of the world for these people” – or fans watching (and sometimes jeering) players at practice.