| January 10, 2020 10:14 AM
The coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers issued an apology to his players after he referred to the team as a “bunch of thugs.”
Coach John Beilein called his players a “bunch of thugs” during a film session on Wednesday. The remark sparked outrage as some found it to be a racist remark directed at a basketball team consisting of mostly black men.
According to ESPN, Beilein, 66, was brought in by the team’s general manager, Koby Altman, after the remark to discuss the ramifications. Altman also spoke to each player on the team individually to find out if this was a consistent issue with Beilein.
Beilein maintained that he never intended to call the team thugs, but rather he meant to call them “slugs” during a low-energy performance at practice, saying, “Yesterday in a film session, I used a word — meant to say slug; thug came out. It was brought to my attention a couple of hours later.”
He added, “It was something I have to learn from, just enunciate better, just be clearer with what my words are. They all know it, they understand it. But it’s something that’s unfortunate that we’ll get past.”
On Thursday, Beilein apologized to each athlete individually and to the team as a whole. He claimed the apology was well received by the players.
“There was really positive reinforcement from the guys this morning and last night,” Beilein said while explaining that he spoke to each player individually. “Very understanding, but it’s something that certainly they understand that it was serious. Something that shouldn’t have happened.”
Two of the Cavaliers players, Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr., confirmed Beilein’s remarks. Love told reporters that he believed there was no ill will in Beilein’s remarks, and Nance said he believed it was a “mistake.”
“He made a mistake,” Nance said. “We all make them, but he apologized, owned up to it, and at this point, that’s all we can ask him to do. We all heard it, we were all there. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s any player on the team that believes there was malintent behind it.”
Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton added, “Everybody was shocked, but then we realized what he said, what he meant. He says it all the time, so it’s all good. He calls us slugs because we move slow. It’s good. We knew what he meant.”
This is Beilein’s first season as an NBA coach after a lengthy career on the collegiate level. Altman noted that the team is not considering further disciplinary action against Beilein, and he is expected to finish out his contract with the team.
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