CLEVELAND — Entering Saturday, John Beilein laid claim to 754 victories as a head coach over the course of a three-decade-plus career that included stops in Division III college basketball all the way to the Big Ten.
But while Beilein's resume includes Final Four victories and major conference championships, his latest win was unlike any other he's experienced.
On Saturday, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers by a score of 110-99 in their home opener, moving to 1-1 on the season. With that, Beilein earned the first NBA victory of his lengthy coaching career, which prompted a surprise postgame celebration from his players, who showered their head coach with water as he entered the locker room.
“Excuse my appearance. I just took a little bath and I didn’t think it was coming,” a soaked Beilein said as he entered his postgame press conference with reporters.
Retelling the story of his postgame shower, the former Michigan coach said he entered what was a surprisingly quiet locker room. It wasn't long, however, before he was doused with water by his roster of players, who also presented him with a game ball to commemorate his first coaching victory at the pro level.
"I came into the locker room and everybody was very subdued," Beilein recalled. "And I got a little, 'Wait a minute, we're always going to celebrate every win.' But they knew what they were going to do to celebrate. It was very, very good. We've worked hard. It's been a long summer and September to get to that first win for these guys and our coaching staff."
While Beilein's hiring in May came as a surprise to many, the 66-year-old head coach has already earned high praise for his work with a Cavs roster that includes veterans like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, as well as younger players such as Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. The impact Beilein has already had on his team wasn't just apparent on the court on Saturday night, but also in the locker room, where it was clear his players took pride in being able to present him with his first NBA game ball.
"All in all, we just wanted to get the win tonight and get that first one for Coach," Love said.