Head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, John Beilein, used the word “thug” to characterize the playing style of the team earlier in the season on Wednesday during a Cleveland Cavaliers film day session. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Beilein reached out to the players individually to explain that he misspoke and meant to say the players were playing like “slugs.”
Beilein commented, “I meant to say slugs, as in slow-moving. We weren’t playing hard before…now we were playing harder. That’s what I was trying to say. I meant it as a compliment.”
This only adds on to the drama-filled season that the Cavaliers have been going through. The problems can be stemmed from the Cavs struggling all season to pick up wins. Recently, Kevin Love has shown his frustrations on and off the court with reports about having outburst towards the general manager Koby Altman.
While some may accept Beilein’s apologies for misspeaking, some may take it with a grain of salt. The racial connotations behind what he said could lead to disdain in the locker room or out on the court. Comments like these can implode on the team that is trying to build and make the most on a season that has been a struggle so far. In addition, with such a young team, situations like this cannot happen and can be detrimental to the team’s chemistry.
Is it a big deal?
Should Beilein be fired for his comments? Probably not. Will there be any punishment for what he said? That is up to Koby Altman and ownership which could potentially lead to more conflict on the season. For example, if they make a statement and fine or suspend Beilein, it can show they have the back of the players and do not stand for this type of language being used in the organization, mistake or not. Beilein could take it a certain way which could lead to friction between him and ownership.
On the other hand, if there are no actions taken by Altman and ownership it could mean they are okay with how it was handled by Beilein but could be looked at from the players’ point of view as they don’t care what happened. Players may lose respect for ownership for not disciplining Beilein for calling them “thugs.”
It could have just been a slip of the tongue as he mentioned it was. However, the Cavaliers players have every right to forgive but not forget in this situation. The Cavs season continues to be going in a downward spiral at the moment.