CLEVELAND — Cleveland Cavaliers’ center Tristan Thompson was very vocal in defending this coach John Beilein Friday night.
A report was written by The Athletic that said three of the players on the Cavaliers were unhappy because Beilein, who this season made the jump from coaching college basketball at the University of Michigan to his first job in the NBA, has been treating them like college players.
The report also said the players are talking more with assistant J.B. Bickerstaff than coach Beilein.
Following the Cavaliers’ 93-87 loss the Orlando Magic Friday night, Thompson was asked about the report, to which he had a lot to say. His comments contained expletive language.
“Every coach that I’ve played for—from Byron Scott, to Mike Brown, to David Blatt, to T. Lue, Larry Drew’s an exception, coach Beilein—players always talk to the assistant just because the coach is so busy thinking about so much stuff within the game," Thompson said. “It’s just like in college, you talk more freely with the assistant coach because they’re kind of like the third person on the team, so of course.”
Thompson wasn’t shocked that players have been talking more with Bickerstaff. He said every team is like that and compared the process to owning a home.
“Every team, everyone talks to the assistant coaches just because the head coach has so much going on in his head. He’s trying to game plan, defense, he’s got so much going on,” Thompson said. “It’s like me running my own house. Don’t tell me when the pipes are broke—fix them. And if it’s an issue and it costs a lot of money then you come tell me. Fix the problem and if it gets big enough then I’m going to talk about it. It’s like anything in life.”
After making the analogy to owning a home and the issues that come with it, Thompson’s words were more direct and much stronger.
“I think [the report] is full of s***. I hope none of my teammates said that because at the end of the day, if you’re going to build a culture and a family, you can’t have that chatty patty s*** going on. That s*** is wack to me,” Thompson said. “Everyone’s got to look in the mirror. There’s only so much coach can do and there’s only so much we can do.”
Thompson continued to be critical of the report.
“Do we have the best roster in the NBA? No. But we’re going to go out there and compete every night. Guys got to look in the mirror,” Thompson said. “I hope whoever reported that was just bulls***ing and blamed it on a player. I hope it was someone wearing the suits and not my guys who go to war. I don’t think that’s right, it’s not fair.”
Thompson wrapped up his statement regarding the report with a few more words for his teammates.
“Y’all better find them names cause I’ll pull up on them right now. You can’t do that s***,” Thompson said.
Thompson is one of the team’s veteran leaders, so his voice is important in the locker room. The Canadian-born center has been with Cleveland for nine seasons, drafted by the Cavaliers in 2011 with the fourth overall pick.
The comments made in the report, as well as those issued by Thompson Friday night, come during a Cavaliers skid. Cleveland has lost 11 of its last 12 games and is 5-16 on the season so far.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.