Speaking on TNT’s Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley weighed in on John Beilein’s departure as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach.
Charles Barkley has never been one to bite his tongue.
And when it came to John Beilein’s resignation from the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hall of Fame forward felt compelled to weigh in.
Appearing on TNT’s Inside the NBA studio show prior to the nationally televised matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night, Barkley made a point to share his thoughts on Beilein’s untimely departure. In doing so, the 11-time All-Star took aim at Cavs players, who he said tried to get Beilein fired during his time with the team, which ultimately lasted 54 games.
“I want to call out the Cleveland Cavaliers. I thought what they did to Coach Beilein was ridiculous, unprofessional,” Barkley said. “I think the veterans on that team were not leaders. I think the young guys who can’t play think they’re better than they are and they tried to get that man fired.”
Arriving in Cleveland after 40 seasons of experience coaching at the college level, Beilein’s first NBA season was seemingly defined by the disconnect between himself and his roster.
In December, Joe Vardon and Sham Charania of The Athletic reported that Cavs players were frustrated with the 67-year-old Beilein’s coaching style and lack of understanding of the NBA game. One month later, the former Michigan head coach was the subject of another controversy, in which he apologized to his players after stating they had been playing like “thugs” in a film session. Beilein maintained he intended to say his players were playing like “slugs.”
At the time of the “thugs” mishap, both Barkley and hs TNT colleague and fellow Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, defended Beilein. On Thursday, “The Round Mound of Rebound” shared a similar sentiment.
“I’m so disgusted by those players trying to get that man fired,” Barkley said. “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. Because they stink I just didn’t think that was fair.
“When a coach is wrong, I’m going to call him out. But when players are wrong, I’m going to call them out and I’m disgusted by what the Cavaliers did to Coach Beilein.”
Despite his messy exit, Beilein still returned to Cleveland on Wednesday to give the Cavs a final address — a move which has seen been publically lauded by the team’s veterans.
“Just seeing him being vulnerable and treating us with respect and empathy, I thought it was super powerful,” Kevin Love said.
Barkley, however, said that if he was Beilein, he would have handled his farewell differently.
“I would have went out swinging,” Barkley said. “He should have said, ‘Y’all a bunch of damn losers, I’m glad to get the hell out of here.'”
The Cavs enter the post-All-Star break laying claim to an Eastern Conference-worst 14-40 record.