Israeli-American basketball coach Blatt reveals he has MS
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Israeli-American basketball coach Blatt reveals he has MS

Ex-NBA coach says he has adopted strict exercise regimen to prevent muscle deterioration, vows to continue helming Greek team Olympiacos

Olympiakos coach David Blatt celebrates a point during a Euroleague basketball match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in Piraeus near Athens, on January 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Olympiakos coach David Blatt celebrates a point during a Euroleague basketball match between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos in Piraeus near Athens, on January 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Israeli-American basketball coach David Blatt revealed Monday that he was battling a progressive form of multiple sclerosis, but vowed to stay positive while fighting the degenerative disease.

In an open letter published by the Greek team that he currently coaches, the 60-year-old Blatt said that he had been diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis earlier this year.

“Sometimes life throws things at you that really have no explanation or rhyme or reason. Those are moments that upon recognizing you have to make choices that test your true character,” he wrote in a letter published on the Olympiacos website.

“This fight is real and constant and non-ending, as there is no cure for this disease, but it is not lethal,” he added.

Blatt said he was diagnosed with PPMS several months ago, and has adopted a strict exercise regimen to help combat muscle deterioration.

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and head coach David Blatt speak late in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 26, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP)

The coach, who took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA finals in 2015 before being dumped by the team the next year, said he was applying sports methodologies to his treatment program, and planned to continue coaching Olympiacos.

“I am a coach and my job is to lead and teach and inspire a lot of people. Not being as agile or active doesn’t affect my ability to do those things. I am fortunate. I have great doctors, trainers, physical therapists, and management that accept my disabilities and help me overcome. How could I possibly complain? I absolutely cannot and will not. It’s wasted effort and while I ask my players and staff to be the best version of themselves, I must ask and even demand from myself to do the same,” Blatt said.

“The great John Wooden once said ‘Things work out best for people who make the best of how things work out.’ My condition is no picnic, but many have it tougher. It’s my responsibility to be an example for all to continue to live their life in the best way possible and to never, ever, ever give in or give up.”

Blatt played for many years in Israel’s Super League, then went on to serve as head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Israel’s national team.

Olympiacos Piraeus is the tenth team Blatt has coached in his career.

Before signing his two-year contract with that team, he spent two years helming Darussafaka Istanbul, after he was unceremoniously booted from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016 midway through their historic NBA championship season.

He has also coached Dynamo St. Petersburg, Benetton Treviso, Russia, Efes Pilsen, Dynamo Moscow and Greek team Aris Thessaloniki.

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