Cavaliers first-year head coach John Beilein is getting support from a couple respected former NBA greats.
The Cleveland coach issued individual apologies to his players this week and a sweeping apology to the team after using the word “thugs,” in reference to the team’s playing style during a film review session Wednesday, all according to ESPN.
But Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t think Beilein is the problem. On Inside the NBA on TNT, the Hall of Fame hooper and analyst said late Thursday, “If you have to be apologized to for your coach calling you a thug, you ain’t gonna never win, you’re soft, ok…. They’re not playing like thugs, so I believe him when he said they’re playing like slugs…. Stop being so sensitive. Listen, I grew up in the ’80s I got called worse than ‘slug,’ trust me.”
Beilein’s apology insisted that his critique used the wrong word, that he was going for ‘slugs.’ Either way, Charles Barkley is also backing Beilein, saying that the Cavs need to focus on the court instead of picking apart a coach who is trying to help a struggling franchise win.
“To be complaining about a coach who’s coming in, trying to make y’all work on fundamentals when y’all stink, make y’all watch film, make y’all practice hard,” Barkley said. “This is starting to be a joke.”
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O’Neal added that he believes the controversy was a move by someone in the locker room to have Beilein removed, asking how the information got out and asking what happened to the old code of ‘What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room?.”
To Shaq’s point, The Athletic reported in December that the players were unhappy with the way the new coach is running things.
But the Cavs are sticking with Beilein with the team just a couple spots above the last place in the Eastern Conference standings.