Media relations: 'It has to be respected, recognized and appreciated'

Jan 01, 2019 by David Blatt - Piraeus, Greece Print
Media relations: 'It has to be respected, recognized and appreciated'

How critical is it for an elite basketball coach to have a good relationship with the media? How different are basketball journalists at both sides of the Atlantic? Is it possible to send messages to your own players through the media? How about your own fans? How important is it to be cautious on social media in this ever-growing society? How about pressure – is the media responsible for that? You will not find a better man to talk about all this than Olympiacos Piraeus head coach David Blatt, who has enjoyed press conferences and direct contact with the media throughout his career.

I have long said – and anyone that knows me knows it, that media is a big part of what we do as professional sportsmen. The importance of us being open and communicative and fair with one another is something that serves our sport well because it is what drives fan interest and what helps to engage the masses and glorify our sport. It is something that has to be respected, recognized and appreciated, and I try to do that whenever I can.

"The importance of us being open and communicative and fair with one another is something that serves our sport well."

I never looked at it as pressure. I think there are different kinds of journalists and different kinds of journalism. You have to recognize that, but for me, pressure has never been external. I have always put more pressure on myself than I allowed to have or to feel from external sources such as the media. People have the right to say and write whatever they want to. You just hope that it comes with the sense of credibility and respect and professionalism and you recognize that sometimes it doesn't and that is just how it is. It is unfortunate, but that is a reality. I go with that - I have been in the business too many years to allow that to influence me.

I suppose it is possible to reach out to our fans through the media. I don't suppose it is possible... it is very possible! Just like the different times that coaches will talk to their players through the media. Neither of those cases I think are the best possible situations, but I guess there is a place for it, if necessary. The important thing is to try to be open, to try to be respectful, to try to be professional, to recognize that everybody has a job to do, that everybody has a point of view, that everyone has their own motivation to be successful and to live together, harmoniously, as much as that's possible.

"We all have to recognize that the world has changed when it comes to the media, the exposure of the player, the coach, the athlete and even the writer himself. The world is a different place than it was even 10 years ago."

Remember, I came here at the age of 22 and only went back to the United States 30-somewhat years later, in terms of my professional life. But I can tell you that, indeed, from one's standpoint, there are rules, as to the media having access to players and coaches in the U.S. I would say that to no less extent from a social media standpoint, from an outside-the-line standpoint, the feeling of freedom of access is even greater in the United States is even greater than it is here or the ability of the media to have influence is even greater than it is here. And I am not saying it is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, I am just saying that is the reality. We all have to recognize that the world has changed when it comes to the media, the exposure of the player, the coach, the athlete and even the writer himself. The world is a different place than it was even 10 years ago. A very different place. What I am always left with is the same thing: are things and can things be done in a tasteful, respectful, professional way? And unfortunately, my feeling is today that you see a lot less of that, and you can only hope that there is more, that's all.

I guess that I am not someone who engages a great deal in the world of social media just because I want to keep it personal with my players and the people that I come also closely in contact with. I just think there is too much of a margin for error when you lose the direct contact aspect of things. Maybe, to a certain extent, that's naive, but what can I say? I am a little old-fashioned, and that's the way I prefer to live.