Former Michigan Wolverines and current Cleveland Cavaliers head coach John Beilein got himself into the headlines this week after a verbal gaffe during a film session with his team.
He allegedly compared his team to “thugs”, then clarified his misstatement by saying he meant to use the term “slugs”.
Outspoken ESPN host Stephen A. Smith didn’t shy away from his opinion on the matter – and he’s backing Beilein.
“No. Nothing at all,” Smith answered when asked if took issue with Beilein’s choice of words. “Listen, mistakes happen and it’s not like the man used the N-word or something. There are white players on this basketball team. It’s not like he was directing his comments toward solely black players. And I also think we need to be careful about overreacting or looking for every little syllable or every word that people say.”
While Beilein says that he’s spoken to his players who seemed to be accepting of his explanation and apology, others aren’t so sure. But don’t count Smith among them.
“He’s a basketball coach talking to his team in a film session,” Smith continued. “The reality of the situation is that there are wordsmiths, there are experts, there are people that are on radio and television every day who have made mistakes, who have slipped up and said something that they should not have said or whatever. You apologize, you acknowledge the mistake and you move on.
“I don’t know the context that this was said in. I don’t know who it was directed at specifically. From my understanding, he was talking to his entire team. Last time I checked, Kevin Love is white. [Cedi] Osman is white. Other players on the team are white as well, it’s not just all the black players. So I think that we just all need to calm down a little bit.”