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NBA coach apologizes after referring to team as ‘a bunch of thugs’

The head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, John Beilein, on Thursday apologized to his players, saying he accidentally called them “thugs” during a film session Wednesday when he meant to say the word “slugs.”

“There was really positive reinforcement from the guys this morning and last night,” Beilein told reporters Thursday, ESPN reports. “Very understanding, but it’s something that certainly they understand that it was serious. Something that shouldn’t have happened.”

Beilein reportedly reached out to the players individually after the incident to tell them he meant to say the word “slugs” when he called the team a “bunch of thugs” while watching the film on Wednesday. 

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The team’s general manager Koby Altman met with Beilein on Thursday and also talked individually with players to better understand Wednesday’s incident and see how accepting they were of Beilein’s apology, according to network sources.

Cleveland forward Larry Nance Jr. said that he didn’t believe there to be malice behind Beilein’s comment.

“He made a mistake. We all make them, but he apologized, owned up to it, and at this point, that’s all we can ask him to do,” Nance said.

“We all heard it, we were all there. But at the same time, I don’t think there’s any player on the team that believes there was malintent behind it,” he added.

According to the ESPN report, the team plans to continue with Beilein as coach.

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