The road from college basketball to NBA head coach is lined with bodies. Calipari, Pitino, Hoiberg. It's a dangerous path, to be walked only by the chosen few. John Beilein was not one of the chosen few. On Wednesday, the 67-year-old Michigan man resigned from his first (and very probably last) NBA head coaching job after just over four months. Beilein's Cavs posted a 14-40 record in his first 54 games in charge, but it's what happened behind the scenes that ultimately sealed his fate. It may shock you to hear this, but a senior citizen who spent his entire career telling teenagers what to do struggled to make the leap to the Tik Tok NBA, typified by this story from ESPN's Jackie MacMullan about the move that ultimately did Beilein in.
If you're operating without sound, here's the transcript from MacMullan's appearance on The Hoop Collective podcast.
This is a coach that was thinking about practicing on Christmas day. That’s a lack of understanding of how the NBA works. It just is the length of the season, the importance of getting your players’ heads in the right space. They weren’t playing on Christmas day and he was considering practicing on Christmas day. Of course, that didn’t happen, because someone squashed that.
Christmas. Day. That's not just a lack of understanding about how the NBA works. That's a lack of understanding about how the world works. It wasn't the only reality check for the Beilein regime, however. Sources also called Cavs training camp "a disaster" and said that Beilein seemed "stunned by the culture of the modern NBA player." Then on January 8th, he reportedly called Cavs players "thugs" during a film session. He later said that we meant to say "slugs," but either way, that's not the kind of thing you come back from.
But seriously. Christmas day? Beilein was getting to paid $4 million dollars a year to make decisions like that? No wonder he lost his job . . . well, sort of. As it turns out, Beilein and the Cavs haven't fully parted ways, with the former head coach now "reassigned" within the Cavaliers organization. If we were Cavs players, we wouldn't book our Thanksgiving travel just yet . . .