From the moment the Cleveland Cavaliers fired head coach David Blatt midway through the 2016-17 season and promoted assistant coach Tyronn Lue, giving him the head coaching duties, plenty of pressure was placed on Lue’s shoulders. So much pressure that in a recent one-on-one with ESPN’s Dave McMenamin on the NBA Lockdown Podcast, Lue admitted that the being the head coach of the wine and gold is by far the hardest job in the NBA.
“It’s the hardest job, by far. It’s the hardest job. But I’ve been through a lot of tough things in my life anyway, and I just try not to listen to the outside noise — to the media and what they have to say. As long as I have the support of [Cavs general manager] David Griffin, [principal owner] Dan Gilbert, my players, the city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio, as long as I have that support, that’s all that matters.”
With the Big Three, including the world’s greatest basketball player in LeBron James, the Cavs are expected to not only get to the NBA Finals, but also win the Finals every year, no matter who their opponent may be. With such high expectations, the media will jump on you as soon as they get the opportunity. Whether it’s not being able to win every game because it’s almost impossible or being questioned about why he is sitting certain players or the rotation he’s using, the spotlight always shines on Lue, whether it’s Game 1 or Game 82. He admitted that that’s what he doesn’t like the most about being the head coach in Cleveland.
“I don’t like the media attention. That’s why this job is just so tough because you’re out in front all the time. It’s tough because whatever you say, if you say one wrong thing — especially leading this team — it goes viral. It’s a big deal. That’s why in the huddles, a lot of times when we’re miked up, I never say anything. When the camera comes over there and they’re all like, you got to talk to the team like, ‘You gotta [this and that]!’ Our team? They don’t want to hear that anyway.”
Lue also stated how he was just “thrown into the fire”, with little to no coaching experience. Add on the fact that he was immediately the head coach of one of the best team’s in the league and he had to learn on the fly, while being pressured to not lose and get Cleveland its first major sports in 52 years. With the team having plenty of personalities, Lue has done a tremendous job of not only leading the team, but being the type of coach who understands each of his players as well.
“I just got thrown right in the fire, not knowing how I wanted to coach. I had a thought of what I wanted to do as a coach, but when you’re coaching LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and the pressures of winning a championship, it’s different. Like, I didn’t have a chance to start lower and work my way up to the top. I just jumped right up to the top, right into the fire, and that was tough. That was the hardest part for me because I didn’t get a chance to grow. I didn’t get a chance to even like have time to prepare. It was just a tough situation, and it was all God. I think it was all God to get through that and win a championship and be down 3-1 the way we did it. I mean it was just, it had to be heaven sent.”
It may be the hardest job in the NBA, but being the head coach of the Cavs has sure worked out for Lue. He won his first ring as a coach before he even completed his first full season in the league. Impressive, huh? Any coach would love to say that they have won a championship, doing it even before you finish your first full season as a head coach and it’s almost unheard of. The head coach may have set high standards for himself with such a remarkable team that he took over, but he’s lived up to them so far, which is an incredible feat in itself.