Former West Virginia Head Coach and current Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein referred to his players as a “bunch of thugs” in a film session on Wednesday, prompting concerns about whether it was a racially-charged comment or not.
Most of the Cavaliers are African-American and it’s obviously not an appropriate comment by Beilein. Beilein immediately apologized and offered the following comment: “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 on Wednesday night. “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.
The Cavs are off to a 10-27 start to the season and Beilein has had a difficult time getting through to professional players in the way that he did with collegiate players. There have been multiple reports that the first year coach has lost the locker room and that his methods of coaching are not translating well to the professional game.