Cavs coach John Beilein apologizes to players after he called them 'thugs,' ESPN reports

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards
Posted at 10:33 AM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 10:33:35-05

CLEVELAND — Controversy has hit the Cavs organization after head coach John Beilein told his players they were no longer playing “like a bunch of thugs,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. Beilein later reached out to players individually to insist he instead mean to use the words “slugs.”

Using the word thugs to a group of largely young African-American men carries obvious racial connotations, and Beilein acknowledged his problematic words during a phone conversation to ESPN.

Sources said when players and staff heard the words come out of his mouth during an off-day film session in Detroit, the players left the room stunned, ESPN reports.

"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 on Wednesday night. "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."

More on this ESPN story can be found here.