Why John Beilein Stayed at Michigan

Why John Beilein Stayed at Michigan

Basketball

Why John Beilein Stayed at Michigan


Michigan basketball head coach John Beilein was a strong contender for the Detroit Pistons job. Here’s why he chose to stay with the Wolverines instead of going to the NBA.


Why John Beilein Stayed at Michigan

It was almost a nightmare for some in Metro Detroit.

The local NBA franchise, the Detroit Pistons, have been mediocre, at best, for the past decade, and here was the head coach of the successful nearby Michigan Wolverines team flirting with the possibility of making the 43 mile trek east on the heels of nearly winning an NCAA national championship.

For some, sure, it would be a welcome move — sacrifice the maize and blue’s success in hopes that the pro-league team could rise up. But for others — arguably most who cheer on the Wolverines — it was the last thing they wanted to see happen.

So what did happen?

Ultimately, Beilein withdrew from consideration, and the Pistons got their man in former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, who just won NBA Coach of the Year on Monday evening. During the process, some insiders proclaimed it was all a ruse so Beilein could get his assistants more money. Others said the interest was legitimate.

Straight from Beilein’s mouth on Tuesday, he elaborated that there was mutual interest in the NBA head coaching position. But, he postures, he was never offered the job. If he were, he says, he would have had a tough decision to make.

However, happily — both for himself and Michigan fans — Beilein remains in Ann Arbor, and the now-elite basketball program should continue on its upward ascent.

“Make no mistake, I was not offered the job by the Pistons!” Beilein said. “We certainly had some mutual interest. But, I think they had a great candidate in Dwane Casey – tremendous candidate and coach of the year. So, as a result, it was fairly easy from that standpoint. Whether it was alluring things about just coaching basketball. But, at the same time, I really like being around young kids that are developing and you can do the things that I just spoke about.

“You get to see a kid like Austin Hatch through that period in his life. Watch – go to Berlin and see a kid that’s 17 years old and skinny as all get out go with the Lakers. You end up saying, ‘Let’s do it again!’ I think that’s a primary reason why I believe that’s a great fit for me here at Michigan.”

Regardless of your opinion on the brief dalliance between Beilein and the NBA, flirting with the pro ranks seemed like a surprising boondoggle for one of the game’s best teachers.

Unlike at the college level, in the NBA, you’re not grooming young minds and bodies. You’re managing the egos of multi-millionaires. You aren’t viewed as the great leader or mentor that you might be in college.

For Beilein, it all came down to sitting at home, watching the league continuing to play while he was on the bench, figuratively speaking, and realizing that he and the pros share many a concept as far as how to run things from a schematic standpoint.

When he kept hearing from his friend, who happens to coach the Eastern Conference runner-up Boston Celtics — himself a decorated former college coach — about the spoils of coaching in the NBA, Beilein couldn’t help but to wonder: what if?

“(It was) a combination of things,” Beilein said. “I think number one is, I love coaching basketball a lot, and you’re watching the NBA Playoffs, and you see what guys are doing and you’re looking like – they’re running stuff that we run! Now, I don’t know if they watched us or I watched them, but we’re running – and you can see where if you have highly skilled players, it would be – Brad Stevens kept telling me, ‘I’m having a blast!’ And when you hear those words, and your season’s over, that was appealing.

“I told (WTKA radio host Sam Webb) this: when people said, ‘Why are you going to Canisius? Why are you going to Richmond? Why are you going to West Virginia? Those are all trainwrecks!’ And I’m like, ‘That’s where I’m going!’ I felt that the Pistons was very close to where Coach Casey is going to put them.

“But then, I was never offered the job, so I never really had to make the decision. And it would have been a tough one.”

Now, Beilein is in the midst of rolling contract negotiations, which, once finished, should keep him in Ann Arbor for life. He has no plans to let his eyes wander again, should his success at Michigan continue.

But will the NBA come calling again? He insists, if it does, he’s over that “rat race” having run it before.

When asked by Detroit News’ Bob Wojnowski if he’s had NBA aspirations and offers in the past, Beilein, playfully, remained coy.

Regardless, his NBA hoop dreams are in the past, he’s a Michigan Man now and forever.

“You’ll never know that!” Beilein said about previous NBA interest in his services.. “You’ll never know! We don’t need any more attention to this matter!

“I’m honored by any attention of it.”

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