Why John Beilein Called His Players “Thugs”: Boomers Shouldn’t Coach the NBA

In today's NBA, coaches and front offices need to be aligned with their players' interests.

The most recent sports debacle surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers organization isn't just about losing (the team is currently sitting with a 11-27 record, the fourth-worst mark in the NBA).

First-year head coach John Beilein made headlines when an unidentified source reported that in a Wednesday team film session, Beilein made a comment about his players' recent performance, referring to them as "a bunch of thugs." While it may seem harmless on the surface, you must take into account the audience that Beilein was speaking to.

NBA locker rooms are a unique environment. There are typically only 13 to 15 players that travel to games, and the league itself is often referred to by its players as a brotherhood. Eight of the Cavaliers' current thirteen players are black men under the age of thirty, five of whom make considerably more money than coach Beilein will this season.

Coach Beilein had never been part of that brotherhood until this season. Yes, he is a highly decorated coach at every level of basketball, starting with Newfane High School in 1975 and taking his first collegiate head coaching position at Erie Community College in 1978. Over the course of the next 40 years, Beilein amassed 829 collegiate wins, becoming one of only six Division 1 coaches with 700 wins or more. But during that time, programs (including the most prominent) that were once accustomed to seeing their players blossom from their freshman season until their graduation all bought into the "one and done" philosophy. Popularized by infamous coach John Calipari during his time at the University of Kentucky, "one and done" is a recruiting strategy whereby top high school prospects are brought in as one-year rental players without any plan to play at the school beyond their freshman season. The NBA requires individuals to be one year removed from their high school graduation class year before being eligible to be selected by a team. There is no doubt that coaches' roles at both the collegiate and NBA levels have become more difficult, and that requires a new type of thinking in order to balance the personalities, egos, and potential that come along with the talent.

In Beilein's apology, he lamented that it was simply an error of enunciation and that he meant to say "slugs," so as to say they were playing slowly. The mistake wasn't one of enunciation but rather the estimation that Beilein would be able to overcome the cultural gap that exists between himself and the young players he has been hired to lead.

Before this season with the Cavs, Coach Beilein, at 66, had never coached a player old enough to rent a car without having to pay surcharges. He took over a roster that was mostly comprised of players still on rookie contracts. Maybe that's why Koby Altman, Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager, selected Beilein in the first place, thinking that a seasoned college coach can help the continued development of players who are still of college-age. But, ultimately, in today's NBA, coaches and front offices need to be aligned with their players' interests.

If executives and coaching staff cannot relate to their players, they will not last long at their respective helms. Of the current 30 NBA head coaches, 12 of them are from the baby boomer generation. Only five of them have played professionally either in the NBA or overseas. On the other hand, two of the newest head coaching hires are Memphis' Taylor Jenkins and Minnesota's Ryan Saunders, who are only 35 and 33, respectively. This shows that a lot of organizations are recognizing that they need to be hiring coaches that can relate to the types of players and, more importantly, the personalities that they are tasked to manage.

Former players who have been in pro locker rooms are more adept at handling their young superstars, because they've been around them before. Steve Kerr, for instance, was bred to navigate a locker room with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant from his time with the Chicago Bulls, back when the likes of Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman were his teammates. Also, the injection of young coaches follows the model of what the Miami Heat chose to do when they picked Erik Spoelstra to take over at 38-years-old. Handpicked by Pat Riley to coach the Dwayne Wade-led team, Riley had this to say about his decision: "This game is now about younger coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative, and bring fresh new ideas."

On Thursday's episode of The Jump, Chauncey Billups and Kendrick Perkins, who are both former NBA players and NBA Champions, discussed Beilein's lackluster apology. Neither minced words, giving their sentiments on the matter as a black players who are all too familiar with the connotations of the term "thug." Billups and Perkins both alluded to the fact that Beilein has "lost the locker room," meaning he's lost respect from his players. Remember that Beilein's comments could have only been leaked by a player, coach, or organizational member. Recent outbursts by the team's star player, Kevin Love, at both Beilein and GM Koby Altman are signs that there is internal turmoil, and it's past the point of fixing.

While Altman backed Coach Beilein and stated that the team will be moving forward with him as head coach, it isn't difficult to foresee his time in Cleveland, or the NBA, running out before the end of the season. I don't believe that John Beilein is a racist. I don't believe that he is a bigot. But there is no doubt that John Beilein doesn't belong in the NBA coaching ranks, and his termination is imminent. I even feel bad for the guy because he's going to be coined a racist when it's more likely a case of a misunderstanding of semantics (it's like when an older woman refers to me as "that nice Oriental boy"). But the NBA is a player's league. Old hats like Beilein are best to stay in the familiar pastures of the college game, where they can be the face of the program and a pillar of their university. It's not a bad thing; it's just that these different jobs require different kinds of people. I hope John Beilein returns to the college game and is able to rectify his misstep. But until then, somebody please give him a thug...I meant hug.


What Ageism Means in the Era of "OK, Boomer"

If you cling to outdated ideas, you are choosing to be left behind.

A relative recently reached out to express concern that I was sharing ageist sentiments on the Internet.

She didn't have to specify which content had bothered her. I knew she was talking about my attacks on "boomers."

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Fox Media's "OK Boomer" Trademark Is Peak Boomer Energy

All critiques of the system will inevitably be subsumed by the system

On November 11th the Fox Media company filed for an exclusive trademark of the phrase "OK Boomer" as the name of a comedy, reality, or game show, which is the most boomer move in history.

They were not the first to file for a trademark, as the phrase burst into the public consciousness earlier this fall. A New Yorker named Kevin Yen applied on October 31st to use the phrase for a brand of clothing. Seeing as we've never heard his name before, we'll put that down to hustle and give him a pass. If he wants to try to cash in on some branded t-shirts and sweatpants, good for him. But the idea of a massive media corporation converting the anti-authoritarian sentiment of such a simple phrase into another tentacle of their monstrous, profit-seeking, status quo-defending chimera is equal parts disgusting and hilarious.

capitalism monster Pictured: Capitalism

It's like the plot of a dystopian satire set in the 2020s. Imagine the studio audience, prompted by a bland game show host with bleached teeth, chanting all together "Oh! Kay! Boomer!" Imagine the thunderous applause synced with a flashing sign, and the thin veneer of performative wokeness concealing wretched prostration at the altar of wealth and consolidated power—with some dabbing and flossing thrown in for fun. Imagine the absolute reduction of a generational struggle for a livable future, until it's nothing but a set of empty cultural signifiers set to canned laughter.

spade boomer Does this count as appropriation?

It's maybe the most ridiculous trademark application since Kim Kardashian decided she could own Kimono. It's the same sort of misguided, out-of-touch studio thinking that turns board games into blockbuster action movies, and twitter accounts into sitcoms, but this time it's latching onto a concept that is so fundamentally critical of this very mindset. "You're going to make a show based on the phrase 'OK boomer?' OK, Boomer…" The capitalist impulse can't be turned off. The unfeeling system subsumes all criticism into the body of the beast, like a virus that mimics the immune system, rendering the natural defenses useless.

Is it weird to be hopeful that this show will actually get made? Because there is no version of it that is not horrifying, and there's a sick sort of pleasure in seeing the excess and absurdity of our culture displayed at 10X magnification. Of course it's just as likely that Fox is seeking the trademark just to block anyone else from making an "OK Boomer" show, because some boomer executive finds the phrase so personally offensive that he's trying to erase it from society.

ok boomer gif

Whatever the case, count on the cultural conversation to have thoroughly moved on before anything comes of this. And maybe jump on the trademark now for an "Eat the Rich" show on the travel channel, featuring exotic delicacies prepared with the fresh meat of local plutocrats.

The #ThingsIdLikeToGetBack hashtag swept through Twitter yesterday as a twist on Throwback Thursday.

Set off by the account @MoonPieTags, it has inspired thousands of lamentations of lost youth along with posts about fallen media icons, Obama being better than Trump, and how we all miss our old pets. It's a soft and pleasant kind of nostalgia, which is nice enough. But if you dig a little deeper, #ThingsIdLikeToGetBack has also painted a clear picture of the ways that life in the United States has changed for the worse in recent decades.

While the "OK boomer" meme points to the exhaustion of dealing with a group of people who refuse to listen to anyone born after 1985—who mock our concerns and blame us for changing the economic shifts that afflict us—this hashtag tells the story of what they had that we lack. For all their nostalgia for a lost era of greatness, a lot of the things that made life hopeful, prosperous, and just plain livable for young people coming of age in the 60s and 70s have been lost without much of an acknowledgment.

If you're a boomer, maybe you think that music these days is trash. It's just a bunch of noise. Back when you were in college, you could go see Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana and The Who all in one venue! Real music. Not this noise they listen to these days. Who even is Tekashi69? And why do all these new musicians want to have tattoos all over their faces?

We'll ignore the fact that your parents said the same things about your music, because these are good questions. I would answer them if I could, but you're actually more invested in these trends than most of us are. These young celebrities who frighten and confuse you do not represent important cultural touchstones like Hendrix and The Beatles. Media sources are more disparate than ever, which means there are 100 times as many "famous" people today as there were in your youth, but each one is only a tiny fraction as famous as celebrities used to be. You hear about the ones that float to the surface, mostly for being especially outrageous. And yeah, a lot of them are trash. Leaving aside how many of your icons were secretly trash as well, let's focus on the fact that even a basic ticket to 2019's biggest music festival cost more money than a huge portion of the country has available even for an emergency.

If you adjust for inflation, the minimum wage is still lower than it was in the 1960s. Meanwhile, rent has gone up at more than twice the rate of the median income, and home prices are even worse—up 121% compared to income crawling along at 29%. And you get upset that we aren't buying enough houses? All the while, productivity, AKA the value of our work, has been shooting up, with that growth almost all funneled to the nation's wealthiest (disproportionately boomers). And that college you went to when you weren't swimming in the mud at Woodstock? It's nice that you were able to pay your tuition with a summer job, but tuition has increased at eight times the rate of wages. We're not taking on unsustainable levels of student debt because we're careless, or lack work ethic. We're taking it on because we've been told all our lives that an advanced degree is necessary for a good life, and that's just how much it costs.

You didn't even realize that you were riding on a wave of prosperity and growth that was put in motion by the New Deal Democrats. As you found your footing in the world, you voted in politicians who would slash the top marginal tax rate and kneecap the union protections that gave workers the leverage to negotiate fairly with employers. Politicians value the success of private enterprise over the health of our populous, and they take donations from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies who wring every bit of profit they can out of basic survival.

You used your wealth to create a culture of toxic individualism verging on narcissism—of sprawling excess and consumption, driving up home prices with suburb upon suburb of McMansion—and you scoff at the concept of restructuring our system to curtail the environmental effects. You tell us that our plans to clean up your mess will hurt the economy, despite the fact that climate change has already cost the global economy nearly two trillion dollars and presents a threat to over a billion jobs. You are the generation most at fault for creating the world as it is, and you blame us for its ugliness.

Here's my contribution to #ThingsIdLikeToGetBack: A boomer nostalgia that goes deeper than cultural signifiers—than Muscle Cars and Mork from Ork. I want to see a nostalgia that acknowledges that the existence of iPhones doesn't necessarily mean that my generation is better off, a nostalgia for the material circumstances you had which my generation is deprived of.


"Boomer" isn't a generation. It's a mindset.

Technically, the baby boomer generation encompasses anyone born between 1946 and 1964. But in reality, a boomer is anyone who thinks like a boomer. A boomer is someone who is unable to distinguish real news from fake news stories that prey upon their ignorance. Then, even in the face of crippling evidence to the contrary, a boomer will always be 100% convinced that they're right, based solely on their feelings which they've convinced themselves are facts. Above all else, the boomer mindset revolves around never acknowledging you're not the smartest person in the room (even if you're actually the stupidest) and never accepting blame.

boomer Shutterstock/Jaime Byrd

To be clear, there are plenty of people from the boomer generation who don't act like boomers, and are therefore totally cool, and not really boomers. A 60-year-old person who marches in climate change protests and advocates for progressive social change clearly does not subscribe to the boomer mindset. On the other hand, a 24-year-old Young Republican who believes anything Ben Shapiro says is, in reality, a boomer, and should be treated as such.

That being said, older people are far less likely to be technologically literate––a fact that many boomers fail to fully grasp (otherwise, they would realize how vulnerable they are to false, bad-faith information). As a result, younger voices tend to gain a lot more traction online than boomer ones, and currently, younger voices are, by and large, rejecting boomers outright.

How do you argue with someone who doesn't even agree on the very nature of what constitutes a fact? Easy. You don't. That's the beauty of the Internet's hottest new phrase: "OK Boomer." Why engage with a boomer at all when you can just chalk their sh*tty ideas up to the fact that their brain is dying? So, this holiday season, or really anytime you happen to find yourself in the presence of ignorant, opinionated boomers, here's a handy guide on how to respond to anything a boomer might say:

When a boomer says: "[Insert literally any piece of information from any fake news article that they saw on Facebook, but their decaying boomer brain is incapable of registering as fake news]."

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "How come [progressive thing] isn't like [regressive thing they miss because social change is scary to old, (let's be honest here, most likely) white boomers]."

You say: OK Boomer.

OK Boomer Credit: Pixabay.

When a boomer says: "Millennials are ruining [corporate bullsh*t that decades of targeted advertisements have convinced them is important]."

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "Well that's just my opinion."

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "[Anything related to bootstraps or work ethic]."

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "Donald Trump is your president!"

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "I'm not racist, but how dare anyone hold me accountable me for saying [insert racist screed and also the n-word]."

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "Transgender people are insane! I constantly think about strangers' genitals and cannot sleep at night unless I know for sure that everyone in a public restroom has the same genitals that I do!"

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "How can Barry Obama and his cohort of transgender shadow Muslims get away with operating the Deep State when Donald Trump is president?"

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "Mexicans are invading our country to steal low-skill manual labor jobs, but I pass absolutely zero judgment on company owners who won't pay fair wages to workers, don't believe in a minimum wage that matches inflation, and see no connection between any of these issues."

You say: OK Boomer.

When a boomer says: "Pass the turkey, but just the white meat. I don't like dark meat."

You say: OK Boomer.

Boomer eating meat ABC News: Nick Haggarty

When a boomer chokes on the meat they shoved down their shapeless gullet and gasps: "H-help."

You want to say: "Hurr durr, sorry Boomer. I'm a millennial and don't know how to do anything, huh? Weren't you the guy who voted against everyone having access to health insurance? How is this my problem?"

But your conscience gets the better of you. After all, you're not a sociopath who wants to take everything for yourself and leave society in shambles for your kids and grandkids––you're not a boomer.

So you say: OK Boomer.

You give the boomer the Heimlich maneuver.

When a boomer coughs up half-digested meat on the floor and says: "Thanks. That was a close call. A health crisis would financially ruin me right now because of my terrible health insurance, but I still believe that US health insurance should be an entirely privatized industry because I don't understand how health insurance works in other countries, and I really hate the idea of minorities receiving medical assistance."

For a moment, you wonder if you did the wrong thing. Maybe you should have let the boomer choke. After all, the boomer will probably never change. No matter what happens to the boomer, the boomer will most likely never take responsibility for their beliefs or care about anyone other than themselves. Such is the mandate of the boomer.

But you're not a boomer. You're younger, smarter, more technologically savvy. You need to believe that somewhere, deep down, the boomer has a soul. So you push your generational rage down and...

You say: "Glad you're okay, Pop."


This Gen Xer has a thing or two to say that Millennials need to hear

And she has something to say that we all need to hear.

"Dear Millennials," she begins. If you're like me, you start to groan any time you see these words begin a paragraph on social media. "I'm a Black female Gen X lady. Old enough to be your damn Mama. I have a little advice," the Twitter user Tangela Ekhoff continues in her tweet that is to be the first in a series listing advice for young adults who make up the Millennial generation. According to The Atlantic, Millennials are anyone born between 1982 and 2004. Born in '88, that puts me smack-dab in the middle of Millennial territory, so I'm getting ready to hear how entitled, lazy, and uninspired I am like so many Gen Xers have insisted before.

Tim Gunner, for instance, an Australian property mogul, had a message for Millennials in which he implied avocado toast and coffee were the reasons why our generation is not known for owning property and having healthy savings accounts. ""When I was trying to buy my first home," Gunner said according to 9 News Australia, "I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each." Ekhoff has an entirely different message in her tweets, however, instructing Millennials to "Eat the avocado toast. Travel to new places. Go back to school. Never, ever listen to people who envy your youth and freedom."

It's refreshing to see someone encourage Millennials to live for themselves for once, rather than live to meet the expectations laid out by the generations before them. Eckhoff adds, on the subject of owning property, "It's a big world out there waiting for you to explore it. Home ownership is great, but it ain't all that."

So if not owning property, a significant marker for success in past generations, what does she think Millennials should be aiming toward? Her advice continues with her personal experience, explaining that "as my years advance, and mortality stares me in the face, I can say that EXPERIENCES, FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY…. Either biologically or through your own choice is all that matters. Go. Do. Be. Your life should be about the verbs." It turns out that this "black female Gen X lady" seems to truly understand the spirit of young adults today. While previous generations were often focused on ownership and settling down, Millennials appear to revel in the action, the doing, the experiences of life. As a whole, we'd rather be in motion and fluid, and our goals are to work hard in order to have big experiences, rather than to own big things. One is not inherently better than the other, but so often we see older people judge future generations through their own lens rather than by looking at the world through the eyes of the people they're observing.

"Most of the folk who make money writing about you don't understand you," Ekhoff continues. "They envy you. The menfolk especially," and maybe she has a point. It's easy to see how someone who buckled down early in life and measures success by the number of bedrooms they they own might be envious of the youth traveling the world and bouncing around from experience to fantastic new experience. It also might be mind-boggling for some to hear that these younger adults aren't saving or even planning to buy a house, because for some people in the generations before us, that's the whole point of adulthood. But Millennials are defining adulthood in their own way. Generation X seems to forget that when they were coming into their own, they did the same thing, with their parents and their grandparents admonishing their generation just a vehemently. And we'll do it too, when we're older, unless we learn to measure the achievements of those who come after us based on their metric for success, not our own. It seems as if Tangela Ekhoff is already ahead of the curve on that one.

In fact, she ends her series of advice on a powerful note that can apply to anyone of any generation. Perhaps with all the flak we're constantly getting it is especially important for Millennials right now, but Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and everyone should remember this advice when they're getting caught up worrying about what other people want for them rather than what they want for themselves: "Go live your lives. Make choices that work for you… The only thing you will ever regret not owning is your happiness. FIN."