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What happened to coaches coaching?

I don't often state my opinion on professional sports on these pages unless it has to do with my beloved Baltimore Ravens, and keep my comments to a minimum on collegiate sports unless it deals with Notre Dame football. I try to use examples to demonstrate the positives that can be found in higher level sports that trickle down to the youth and interscholastic levels so our young athletes may utilize their lessons in their own sports experiences.

After watching what unfolded in Cleveland this week with the firing of Cavaliers coach David Blatt, I'm just too sick to my stomach to let it go without comment.

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When he was fired abruptly, Blatt had led his team to the NBA Eastern Conference's best record at 30-11, a .731 winning percentage at the halfway mark of the 2015-16 season. This came after a rookie coaching season where he led his team to the NBA Finals, losing to the Steph Curry-led Golden State Warriors. LeBron James had a career performance in the series, but the loss of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love was too much to overcome and they fell to the Warriors in six games.

I rarely watch the NBA but the Finals tend to attract my attention, especially the matchup between these two teams and their all-star players. I was amazed at what James was able to accomplish, basically on his own, becoming the first player in NBA Finals history to lead both teams in points, rebounds, and assists for the entire series.

He's a great player no doubt, but his role in the firing of Blatt shows the kind of selfish, "everybody look at me" mentality into which the modern player has evolved. James never showed Blatt the respect he deserved from the time he signed to play for the team he so famously kicked to the curb to call his press conference on "The Decision."

Blatt is no lightweight when it comes to coaching basketball. Not only did he have success at Cleveland in his 15 months at the helm, but had won more than 700 games as a coach over his 20-year career, was named Coach of the Year five times, and won league titles seven times in those leagues. I understand they're not the NBA, but in his FIBA European Championship run as the head coach of Team Russia, he defeated teams with future NBA players Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki, Andrei Kirilenko, and Jose Calderon.

But I guess that's not good enough for "King" James. In only the second week of Blatt's "rookie" season leading this team of all-stars, James and Irving were in a battle to see who would run the offense. An ESPN article said that "Shortly thereafter, James changed his role in the Cavs' offense and began playing point guard while moving Irving off the ball."

When asked if he needed permission to make the on-court change, James replied, "No, I can do it on my own ... I'm past those days where I have to ask."

Seriously?

There is so much wrong with where our sports are headed at all levels of play but when arguably the best player (Steph Curry making his own case) of this era decides that he can override a coach's influence and takes over the team to form it in his own mold, don't you think we've gone a bit too far?

People can say all they want that he had no influence on the decision but do any of us really believe that?

Where has our sports culture come to when we allow a player to dictate not only the offense they are going to use but who their teammates will be and now who they want as their coach? It's outrageous to me that a general manager would allow the influence of a single player to have the kind of power that Griffin has allowed James in Cleveland.

We allow parents to have influence at the recreation level, in fact in some cases more than we should. But in their defense these are their kids and they always have the opportunity to switch teams or coaches. What we're talking about here are grown men that have been pampered by those same parents (and coaches are not without guilt here) that feel like they're more important than the team or the game itself. It's showing up not only on the court, but now trickling its way in to the workforce as parents call their kids' supervisors to complain of a poor performance review.

The Ancient Roman poet Horace once wrote, "Youth is unduly busy with pampering the outer person."

Isn't it time LeBron, and really all of us, grow up a bit?

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