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What David Blatt's failed play call can teach football coaches


Here's the situation. You're Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt. There's a second and a half remaining of a crucial Game 4 in your Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the Chicago Bulls. The game is tied, and you have an undetermined amount of time to draw up a play while the referees determine exactly how much time to put on the clock. Kevin Love is out for the series and Kyrie Irving is a shell of himself, hobbling his way through a 2-for-10 night.

The play you draw up calls for LeBron James to.... throw the ball in? In Blatt's defense, James was slogging through a 9-for-29 effort to that point, but still. He's LeBron James. Who else is going to take that shot, Matthew Dellavedova?

"To be honest, the play that was drawn up, um, I scratched it. And I told Coach, 'Just give me the ball. And it's either going to overtime or I'm going to win it for us.' It was that simple," James said after the game. "I was supposed to take the ball out. I told Coach there was no way I'm taking the ball out unless I could shoot it over the backboard and go in. So, I told him, have somebody else take the ball out and give me the ball and get out of the way."

You know what happened from here. The LeBron-approved ended the only way it could: with LeBron draining a 20-footer from the corner for the win.

Football, obviously, is much different than basketball. Especially the college game. There are no LeBrons in college football, and the closest thing to the LeBron James of college football got told to "calm the f*** down" or go to the bench in his final game.

But we have seen a very recent comparison to yesterday's events in Chicago. In fact, it was the most recent competitive American football game to date. Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell were roasted nationally for not handing the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch on what turned out to be their final crack at winning Super Bowl XLIX.

Nevermind that Malcolm Butler's fateful interception was more a result of poor execution than a failed play call - the Seahawks' brass and the Cavs' head coach violated one of sport's oldest adages: you've gotta dance with the one that brung ya.

Or, in more modern terms: think players, not plays. Especially when one of yours happens to be the best in the world.