Cavaliers coach John Beilein apologized to the team after mistakenly saying they were no longer playing like "a bunch of thugs" in a film session on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski reports Beilein met with the team and offered an "emotional apology" before Cleveland's shootaround in Detroit on Thursday. Beilein will coach the Cavs during Thursday night's game against the Pistons and the franchise reportedly plans to keep him in his position.
Beilein reportedly did not know he used the phrase until Cleveland general manager Koby Altman reached out to him later on Wednesday. Once he was informed, Beilein started contacting his players individually to explain he meant to say "slugs" during the film session.
"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 said to ESPN. "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."
Altman reportedly started to gather more context on the film session after players were "increasingly disturbed" upon leaving the meeting. He traveled to Detroit to meet with Beilein and the players to get a sense of how they viewed the coach's comment in the film session and how accepting they were of his apology, reports Wojnarowski.
Tensions have been high among the Cavaliers as of late, as Kevin Love recently had a reported emotional outburst at practice and has shown frustration during games. Beilein has also been "slow to connect" with the young Cavaliers squad, according to Wojnarowski. The team has struggled to find success this season and is currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak.
Beilein signed a five-year contract with the Cavaliers in May after he spent 12 years with the University of Michigan. Cleveland is 10-27 on the season.