John Beilein on leaving Michigan for NBA: 'It was the right thing to do'

Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Basketball

CHICAGO -- The image might take some time getting used to.

John Beilein wore a suit to the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night in downtown Chicago. And with it, he sported a maroon bowtie -- the color of his new team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Beilein, the former head coach of Michigan basketball, left for the same position with the Cavaliers on Monday morning, ending his 12-year tenure with the Wolverines.

Beilein said there was "a lot of consideration" that went into his decision. He also believes that "there's never a good time to leave."

But ultimately, this decision didn't take too long to make.

"I think this was an opportunity that has so much potential," Beilein said from the NBA draft lottery. "It was too difficult to pass up. It was the right thing to do."


Beilein, who spent 12 years coaching Michigan, watched Tuesday night as his new team received the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA draft. He was asked about whether aspects of college basketball such as transfers and recruiting influenced his decision to leave, and declined to answer in full. Instead, he made clear that the promise of a young, rebuilding team with two picks in the first round -- the Cavaliers also have the No. 26 pick -- appealed greatly when it came to his decision.

"I watched a lot of film," Beilein said. "They have great young talent. And then meeting the support staff. Meeting Dan Gilbert. Made a tough decision much easier."

Beilein left Michigan as the winningest coach in program history, posting a 278-150 record while leading the team to two national title appearances, two Big Ten regular-season titles and two Big Ten tournament championships. He has spent his entire career moving up the coaching ladder, and has been a college basketball coach since 1978.

Naturally, there will be some transition as Beilein acclimates to the NBA. He believes the biggest adjustment will be having "to learn quickly."


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