Shaq says Cavs players are 'soft' for wanting apology over 'thugs' comment

Yahoo Sports

Shaquille O’Neal believes the Cleveland Cavaliers are blowing things out of proportion. O’Neal criticized Cavaliers players Thursday, calling them “soft” for being upset that Cavs coach John Beilein called them “thugs.”

The 47-year-old O’Neal explained his thoughts on “Inside the NBA,” saying he was called much worse growing up.

O’Neal also said players on the Cavaliers would never win a title with that attitude. He later added, “Stop being so sensitive.”

Cavaliers players were surprised after Beilein referred to them as “thugs” during a video session. Beilein says he meant to say “slugs,” and used the term “thugs” accidentally. After being informed he called his players “thugs,” Beilein reached out and apologized to each player individually.

While O’Neal is entitled to his opinion, his reasoning assumes players on the Cavaliers haven’t heard the same words or insults O’Neal is referencing when he says, “I got called worse.” It’s possible the Cavs players have had the same experience as O’Neal, but are trying to fight back against that type of language. While “thug” might be considered tame compared to the words O’Neal is referencing, it still carries negative racial connotations. Cavaliers players are likely sick of dealing with stuff like that.

The Cavaliers are 11-27 under Beilein this season. Between the team’s record and Beilein’s “thugs/slugs” mixup, it’s unclear how much longer he’ll get to turn things around.


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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