— -- It has been an emotional week for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA coaching fraternity, the basketball fans of Israel and brands of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
So let's try some frankness and honesty.
Has James ever undermined a coach? Yes.
Has James ever disrespected a coach? Yes.
Could James have found a better way to say "what do you guys want me to do, turn my brain off because I have a huge basketball IQ?" when talking about his relationships with coaches? Yes.
Does James bear some responsibility for getting David Blatt fired? Yes.
Is James a coach killer?
Before answering that, consider a few more things.
How many of James' coaches have been fired? Two.
Paul Silas when James was 20 years old in his second season, the product of a midseason ownership change. And Blatt.
Mike Brown was fired in 2010 when James was a free agent. Despite rampant speculation to the contrary, James did not play a direct role in the decision. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert wanted James' influence, but he would not call Gilbert back so Gilbert guessed. Could he have stopped Brown being fired? Yes. But he was on his way out of the door.
James went 11 years between coaches being fired while he was on a team. If you don't accept the explanation on Brown, well then James played for two head coaches between 2005-14. How many of James' former assistant coaches have gone on to become head coaches? Mike Malone, John Kuester, Melvin Hunt and Tyronn Lue. There is absolutely no question their association with him contributed to their promotions.
Is James sometimes extremely challenging to coaches, especially when he first starts playing for them? Yes.
Erik Spoelstra had some of the most trying days of his career in his first months as James' coach in 2010. Mike Krzyzewski considered cutting James after his first training camp with Team USA in 2006. But both coaches ultimately experienced huge success with James; Spoelstra won two titles and Krzyzewski won two gold medals.
As long as we're being honest, both still wanted him back. The Heat badly did in 2014, no matter what they say now. Krzyzewski is hoping for him at the Rio Olympics this summer.
How many of the coaches who have come out and ripped the Cavs for firing Blatt would do just about anything to get James on their roster? A fair guess is a huge majority, if not all.
So let's come back to the question: Is James a coach killer?
Without a doubt, the job of coaching James is extraordinarily challenging. Without a doubt, James' passive-aggressive nature can make a coach's job much harder than it needs to be. Without a doubt, James has some blood on his hands for the way Blatt's tenure went down.
For some, that will be enough to cast the die and brand him with that "coach killer" moniker -- one of the greatest insults you can give a professional athlete. It's why James reacted so sharply when the concept was broached Wednesday.
"I think it does suck that people want to throw my name in the dirt," James said.
But being fair, the record shows a long list of James' coaches getting awards, getting rich contract extensions, getting bigger jobs or second chances, coaching All-Star games, getting medals and getting trophies.
A player such as James raises the entire ocean around a franchise. All the ships rise with it, and sometimes there's seasickness on the way.
Again, to be fair, it wasn't a one-way street. Silas taught James to be a pro and protected him. Brown taught James the value of defense. Krzyzewski taught James leadership. Spoelstra taught James efficiency and helped him become a champion. Blatt, if nothing else, taught James patience, at least some of it. Each coach has benefitted from the work of the last, and James has benefited greatly, in aggregate, as well.
So, again, is James a coach killer? When you answer, at least consider the entire spectrum.