High on a wall and across the courts from where John Beilein was sitting, the Cavaliers’ basketball history stared the new coach in the face.
He wants to make it richer.
“Look at all those banners up there,” Beilein said, pointing toward reminders of the 2016 NBA championship, Eastern Conference titles and division crowns won by the Cavs — most of them in the past decade. “It’s been done before. Why can’t it be done again?”
This basketball renaissance man is ready for his next recovery project.
Saying he won’t use the word “rebuild,” Beilein was introduced Tuesday by the Cavs, whose surprising choice of the 66-year-old was met with skepticism only by those who haven’t crossed paths with him over more than four decades as a coach.
Cleveland’s expansive search ended last week with someone who has won at every level in college — most recently during a 12-year run at Michigan — and will now see if his team-first, family-oriented style can work in the pros.
“He’s all the things you would want in a head coach,” Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said.
Even before being escorted onto the podium by general manager Koby Altman, Beilein showed his eagerness to turn around a team that had its run of four straight finals end this season, when following the departure of LeBron James, the Cavs went 19-63 and parted ways with two coaches.
About an hour before the news conference, Beilein peeled off his suit coat, went onto the floor and rebounded for Cavs forward Larry Nance Jr., one of the team’s core players. Moments later, he chatted with point guard Collin Sexton, who had just gotten off a plane from the Philippines and was soon practicing a jump shot that improved dramatically during his rookie season.
Beilein’s first public moments as Cleveland’s coach couldn’t have gone better.
He was joined by his wife, Kathleen, who has been with him every step of the way on a coaching career that began at Newfane Central High School in New York. All four of their children were in attendance along with four grandchildren, including grandson Johnny, who recently revealed to his grandpa that the Golden State Warriors are his favorite team.
“Here’s the good news,” Beilein said. “Before we were hired here, Cavs were No. 20 on the list. Now he says we’re all the way up to No. 2. So that’s good.”
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