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Charles Barkley defends John Beilein, slams 'ridiculous, unprofessional' Cavaliers players

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John Beilein’s short tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers came to an end this week after just 54 games, and Charles Barkley isn’t happy with the way it went down.

Barkley, speaking on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Thursday night, came at the Cavaliers players for what he saw as mistreatment toward their former coach.

“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 on that team who can’t play think they are better than 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.

“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. When players are wrong I’m going to call them out. I’m disgusted by what the Cavaliers did to coach Beilein."

Beilein officially stepped down from the job on Wednesday, and made it clear that it was his decision to do so. He will be assigned to a different role in the organization, while J.B. Bickerstaff will step into the interim role.

“I find losing very challenging and this year has taken a much bigger toll on me than I expected,” Beilein said. “I grew concerned for the consequences this toll could potentially take on my own health and my family’s well-being down the road. I was not certain I could be at my best for the remainder of the season and in the future. That would not be fair to the players, coaches and support staff.”

Beilein’s time with the Cavaliers was rough. Players reportedly took issue with his college approach to the game and were upset that he was “nitpicking over basic fundamentals” and used animal terminology to name certain plays.

Beilein called his players “thugs” in a film session last month, too, though later apologized to each one of them individually and said he meant to use the word “slugs” instead. Players trolled him in the weeks that followed the incident, reportedly playing “thug”-themed hip-hop music like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” when he was in earshot.

While Beilein was very cordial with his exit, even after his horrendous 14-40 start with the team, both Barkley and fellow host Kenny Smith said they would’ve handled the departure differently.

“I would’ve went out swinging,” Smith said.

Barkley followed suit.

“He should have went out saying, ‘Y’all a bunch of damn losers, I’m glad to get the hell out of here,’” Barkley said.

Charles Barkley called out Cavaliers players on Thursday night for trying to get former coach John Beilein fired.
Charles Barkley called out Cavaliers players on Thursday night for trying to get former coach John Beilein fired. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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