Butch van Breda Kolff '45, the last Princeton alum to serve as a head coach in the NBA, had plenty of big names on his rosters during a tenure that began with the Los Angeles Lakers two years after leading Princeton to the 1965 Final Four and ended in New Orleans. Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Pete Maravich and Wilt Chamberlain were among them.
As the rest of the basketball world learned Friday morning that LeBron James announced he'd be returning to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, new Cavs head coach David Blatt '81 was as happy as anyone on the shore of Lake Erie (Cavs-produced video with Blatt's reaction).
Asked Cavs coach David Blatt if he's thrilled for chance to coach James. "That would be understatement of the millennium," he tells Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 11, 2014
Just got off phone with Cavs coach David Blatt. "I'm thrilled with the news. Its exciting for the team, the state and for basketball,"— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) July 11, 2014
For Blatt, though, the James news was just part of a big day for him and another Princeton alum more than a generation younger.
Just hours later, almost 2,000 miles from Cleveland, Toronto and even further from Jadwin Gym, T.J. Bray '14 made his professional debut for the Toronto Raptors' NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas, and the new Princeton grad got more than a quick look. In 22 minutes, more time than all but three of the 10 players who saw the floor for Toronto in the 89-78 win over the Lakers, Bray went 3 of 3 from the field, all from beyond the arc, and hit 3 of 4 from the line to finish as one of five Raptors in double figures with 12 points. Bray added three steals, a rebound, and two assists with one turnover (box score).
Teams in the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League will play at least five games with the opponents predetermined for the first three. Bray will get his next chance Saturday at 6 p.m. ET against Denver in a game that can be seen on NBA TV.
As one Tiger alum left the floor at UNLV's Cox Pavilion, another entered when Blatt and the Cavaliers followed Toronto's game with his NBA coaching debut against the Milwaukee Bucks. The day came after more than 20 years of coaching success in Europe and Israel, both on the professional and national-team levels (See a Cavs-produced video of Blatt's coaching style at a Summer League practice).
Blatt, like Bray two hours before him, left the floor in Las Vegas a winner in his debut when the Cavaliers survived a last-second shot to beat Milwaukee 70-68. He and the Cavs will go again Sunday at 4 p.m. ET against San Antonio.