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NBA Coach David Blatt Compares Basketball Coaches To Fighter Pilots

NBA coach David Blatt compares basketball coaches to fighter pilots

David Blatt © Gallo Images
at TD Garden on November 14, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. David Blatt © Gallo Images

David Blatt is an Israeli-American professional basketball coach. He immigrated to Israel in 1981 and served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). After years of playing and coaching in Israel he is
currently the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When Blatt was asked by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin about facing criticism on the job, Blatt compared his work as a coach to a fighter pilot. Blatt said that both jobs require making many split-second, critical decisions.

USA Today calls Blatt’s analogy “one of the most ridiculous comparisons in coaching history,” but for us Israelis it makes a lot of sense.

The Israeli business culture draws many analogies and idioms from IDF concepts and jargon. Almost all Israeli citizens serve in the military. Many successful individuals also bring their military experience and idioms into the business world.

In American culture it’s considered normal and acceptable to use sports expressions in the business world; and army expressions are the Israeli equivalent.  For example:

Israelis often say “aiming at the target” to refer to striving to reach a goal, whereas Americans might say “driving it home” in a similar context.

Israelis need to “know the borders” while Americans want to understand “the ballpark figure.”

Israelis see negotiations as a “tough battle” with only one winner, while Americans see them as a “league” where more than one team can play.

Different cultures express themselves in different ways, which is liable to lead to misunderstandings. It is vital (or “game-changing,” in American lingo) to have knowledge of your business associate’s culture before doing business with them.

Learning about the origins and characteristics of the Israeli business culture enhances communication, which is the cornerstone of profitable business in our diverse, global economy.


To this end, you may find the book Israeli Business Culture invaluable. You can order it on

Please also feel free to browse the website at and read about the various workshops we offer.

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