Cavaliers coach John Beilein reportedly gave emotional apology to team

John Beilein
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly plan to keep head coach John Beilein after he issued an apology for calling his players “thugs” during a film session on Jan. 8.

Beilein met with the team in what was described as an emotional apology before shootaround for Thursday’s game against the Detroit Pistons, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski broke the story Wednesday night, reporting that the players were “initially stunned and were increasingly disturbed” when Beilein complimented them for no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.”

Beilein said he meant to use the word “slugs.”

“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. “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.”

Cavaliers GM Koby Altman also traveled to Detroit and met with Beilein and players to assess what happened during the film session, according to Wojnarowski.

“I don’t think there was any malice or intent to upset us,” Kevin Love said. “At the end of the day as a person, he’s a good man and he misspoke. He owned up to it, came in this morning to apologize and now we’ve moved on.”

No player other than Love has issued a public statement on the situation.

Beilein, 66, signed a five-year contract with the Cavaliers after spending his entire coaching career in college basketball, coaching the University of Michigan for 12 years.