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Old 01-09-2020, 08:43 AM
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Default Coach John Beilein scrambles behind scenes after calling (black) Cavaliers players ‘bunch of thugs’


John Beilein scrambles behind scenes after calling Cavaliers players ‘bunch of thugs’
By Jeremy Layton
January 9, 2020 | 10:09am

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein’s rough year got a whole lot worse this week when he made a racially-charged comment during a team meeting.

During an off-day film session in Detroit, the first-year coach told his team that they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs” – a comment that was met with stunned silence by his largely African-American roster.

In the aftermath, the 66-year-old Beilein attempted to walk back his comments, reportedly telling a number of his players that he meant to say “slugs.”

According to ESPN, Cavaliers players became “increasingly disturbed” as they filed out of the meeting. As general manager Koby Altman got involved, Beilein started reaching out to players individually in attempt to clarify his words.

“I didn’t realize that I had said the word ‘thugs,’ but my staff told me later I did and so I must have said it,” Beilein told ESPN, acknowledging that he understood the racial connotations of the word.

“I meant to say slugs, as in slow-moving. We weren’t playing hard before, and now we were playing harder. I meant it as a compliment. That’s what I was trying to say. I’ve already talked to eight of my players tonight, and they are telling me that they understand.”

It’s perhaps a new low in what has turned out to be a disastrous season in Cleveland for Beilein, his first in the NBA after a decorated 40-year college coaching career. In December, several players ripped Beilein anonymously, citing a lack of in-game adjustments as the reason they had lost 10 of 11 games.

Starting center Tristan Thompson publicly defended Beilein, then was caught on camera screaming at him days later. Meanwhile, star Kevin Love has had a number of on-and-off-court outbursts in recent days, appearing visibly frustrated with the coach and his teammates on multiple occasions.

The Cavaliers are currently 10-27 and sit in third-to-last in the Eastern Conference. They play the Pistons in Detroit on Thursday night.
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