John Beilein is taking over as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers without having any prior NBA coaching experience. While not completely unheard of, one basketball legend who made the same transition noted a big challenge Beilein might face in the pros.
Speaking to The Detroit News, Dick Vitale explained that Beilein's biggest obstacle in the NBA will be how to handle losing. He referenced his own struggles transitioning from head coach of Detroit Mercy to the Detroit Pistons.
“The biggest challenge he’s going to have, which I couldn’t handle, is losing... Because all my life, whether it be high school state championships, college, Rutgers, we recruit a class that goes to the Final Four the year Michigan was there in ’76, then I go to (the University of Detroit), we go a Sweet 16. We have a lot of success for U-D, and all of a sudden I go to the pros, and you get pounded on a regular basis. I couldn’t handle it.”
Beilein never lost more than 22 games in a season in 40 years as a head coach. But unless the Cavaliers are historically good next season, Beilein is likely to cross that 22-loss threshold perhaps within his first few months on the job.
In 12 years as the head coach of Michigan, Beilein won two Big Ten regular season titles and two Big Ten Tournament titles. He also led the team to two NCAA Tournament Finals, falling short of the ultimate prize both times.
In addition to Michigan, Beilein served as head coach of Erie, Nazareth, Le Moyne, Canisius, Richmond, and West Virginia.
Beilein takes over a Cavaliers team that finished the 2018-19 season with a 19-63 record in their first year without LeBron James.
The Cavaliers made it to four straight NBA Finals with LeBron on the team.
Beilein will also be presiding over his first NBA Draft, with a chance to develop one of the many college players he played with or against during his time in Michigan. Cleveland has the No. 5 overall selection.