In this installment of Freudian slips that make you go “Damn,” we turn to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
ESPN reports that during a film session on Wednesday night, first-year coach John Beilein told the players that they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs.” Reportedly, a hush fell over the room and the players left the meeting stunned and rather disturbed by the remark. Beilein would later tell ESPN after the incident, “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.” Bold strategy Cotton; let’s see if it pays off.
This isn’t a good look for Beilein, who in his first year as an NBA coach after spending over 40 years in college basketball, has already been struggling to connect with his team. A report in the Athletic last month stated that a good chunk of both veteran and younger players look to the assistant coaches for guidance as they have grown frustrated with his college-style method of coaching. On the back of a 10-27 season that has seen one of its veteran players verbally express his disgust with the organization, this can only be seen as yet another setback for the beleaguered team.
Beilein has said that he has spoken to eight of the players and that they understood his intention. Maybe I’m just being Conspiracy Brother right now but I have trouble buying the “slugs” explanation. The two words rhyme, sure, but they don’t pronounce the same. I’ve never called a Slugma a Thugma, though that honestly does sound like my kind of Pokémon. You can’t even use the spoonerism defense here, in which a person combines the syllables of two words next to each other in a sentence together, potentially saying something embarrassing. He just straight-up called the players thugs.
If the team is already having struggles connecting with Beilein, I can only imagine this isn’t going to help make things any better.