Right in the midst of All-Star Weekend in Chicago, news emerged that John Beilein would likely not stay on as the Cavs’ head coach beyond this season, and by Tuesday, it had become clear that he’d be on his way out by the end of the week, with assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff stepping in to fill the role.
Beilein was a first-time NBA coach who had left his job at Michigan, and by cutting his tenure in Cleveland short, was reportedly walking away from a long-term deal worth about $4.5 million a year. For Bickerstaff, this marked the third time he’s stepped into a head coaching position after a firing, although this time, he isn’t going to serve as an interim head coach.
On Thursday night, Charles Barkley weighed in on the ordeal, pointing the finger at Cavs players for staging something of a mutiny in an effort to get Beilein dismissed. Here’s what Barkley had to say about the matter.
“I want to call out the Cleveland Cavaliers,” Barkley said on Thursday on TNT’s Inside The NBA. “I thought what they did to coach Beilein was ridiculous, unprofessional. I think the veterans on that team were not leaders. I think the young guys who can’t play think they’re better than what they are and they tried to get that man fired. They got that man fired.”
“I’m so disgusted by those players trying to get that man fired,” Barkley continued. “John Beilein is a hell of a coach and I think he’s a good guy, but for those players to complain about we’re practicing too hard, we’re watching too much film because they stink, I just didn’t think that was fair. When a coach is wrong, I’m going to call them out, when players are wrong, I’m going to call them out and I’m disgusted what the Cavaliers did to Coach Beilein.”
Last month, Beilein found himself under fire for comments he made during a Cavs’ film session, when he reportedly told his players that they were “no longer playing like a bunch of thugs.” Beilein was forced to issue a public apology, claiming that he misspoke and had intended to say “slugs.”
Either way, the situation was part of a pattern of incidents that had clearly done irreparable damage. Things got even worse after Andre Drummond, who came to Cleveland prior to the trade deadline, had reportedly said that things under Beilein were even worse than they were in Detroit, although Drummond later denied that report. Regardless, the Cavs can now put this brief chapter in their history behind them and focus on the future as the continue to try and pick up the pieces in their second post-LeBron era.