Less than a calendar year went by with John Beilein being the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. A short time that was filled with drama and poor on the court performance had NBA Twitter attacking the former Michigan Wolverines head coach saying that he was in over his head. A comment on players’ attitude and work ethic in a film session was miscommunicated and not too much later Beilein left the team after just 54 games as the head coach.
A lifelong dream for Coach Beilein was cut short due to a rough situation and a franchise that (outside of having the best player on the planet here and there) has been a dumpster fire for the last 20 years.
This dream was not something that Beilein kept quiet. According to his former star Nik Stauskas on Big Ten Network’s Take Ten Podcast, the two would frequently see each other after he had been drafted into the NBA and they would discuss the matter.
“I used to sit down with Coach B and we would go to lunch and he would tell me things like, ‘Man, I want to coach in the NBA, I want to give it a try one time. The timing has got to be right, I don’t know,”’ he said.
Although it was his dream, Stauskas recalls having some pretty frank discussions with his former coach about the idea after a tumultuous rookie season, “He was thinking about it and especially after what I experienced in Sacramento that year, like, that was fresh in my mind,” explained the former Big Ten Player of the Year.
“I know how Coach B likes to... you know, not like a control freak, but he likes to have guys that are going to buy into his system, and that’s how it works,” he said. “Everyone needs to buy into a common goal.”
“I told him, ‘It’s different up there. They’re not going to listen to you and buy in the same way these 18-year-olds coming into Michigan will,” Stauskas continued, “‘it was more of like an ego-personality thing that you are going to be dealing with once you get to the NBA. You have guys making a lot of money, there’s entitlement, there are all of these different things there that aren’t necessarily at Michigan that you don’t have to deal with. So, I warned him of different things.’”
Despite the warning, the former Michigan guard knew that Beilein was dead-set on giving the NBA a shot, “I knew he was still going to chase that dream because I mean, you can’t hold someone back. If that is their dream and they’re going to give it a try, go for it.”
“But when he signed with Cleveland, after had just being there and seeing how that year ended (Stauskas played 24 games with the 19-63 Cavs squad), I knew it was going to be tough. I knew it was going to be tough, and not those guys on Cleveland are bad guys by any means, they’re all great guys, I just know the type of- like I said- the type of guys that he needs to buy in, I just knew those guys weren’t going to give him the energy and the commitment that he wanted and needed to be successful.”
We know what came of his tenure at Cleveland, with just 14 career wins as an NBA head coach, Beilein stepped down during the All-Star Break.
“It was unfortunate, the way it all played out.” Stauskas said of his former head coach’s NBA career, “I felt bad for him that things ended so quickly and that he didn’t get to see it all the way through. I don’t think that should tarnish his image or his career by any means. To this day, my favorite coach I ever played for hands down. I truly love him and I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.”
Stauskas could have projected an NBA run for his former head coach at Michigan, but he has no idea what is next for the 67-year-old Beilein:
“I don’t know what he is planning to do for the rest of (his life) if he is going to go back to coaching or not, but either way he has had an incredible career no matter where he’s been.”