Cleveland Cavaliers coach John Beilein has sought to clear the air with his players, insisting that he meant to call them “slugs,” not “thugs,” during a recent film session.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Beilein conveyed to his players that he understood the racial connotations in saying that they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.” Beilein reached out to each of his players individually to inform them that he misspoke.
“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 explained. “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.”
Wojnarowski reported that “a hush fell over the room,” after Beilein referred to his team as “thugs.”
“The Cavaliers players left the room initially stunned and were increasingly disturbed as they dispersed out of the meeting,” Wojnarowski reported.
The incident will certainly not endear Beilein to his player who, along with Beilein, are struggling through a 10-27 season.