John Beilein was not interested in merely extracting a more lucrative extension out of the University of Michigan — his interest in the NBA and the Detroit Pistons job was real. At least, that is the way he tells it as reported by Brendan Quinn in The Athletic.
In fact, he talked with the Pistons about the possibility for about a month, as he was intrigued by the challenge of the NBA after a 40-year career of always being willing to slay another professional beat.
But once the story was broken and the spotlight was put on Beilein and the possibility of him moving on from U-M became unavoidable, the head coach decided to stay put. The Pistons asked him to stay in the running as they finished interviews with other candidates Ime Udoka and Dwane Casey, but Beilein said he wasn’t interested in drawing out the lengthy process any longer.
As for the Pistons, a monthlong romance with Beilein ended up being too much, too drawn out. Over the last few days, as a public outpouring begged Beilein to return to Michigan, the Pistons scheduled interviews with Casey and Udoka. At that point, in Beilein’s mind, if they still weren’t ready to extend him a job offer knowing what they knew, then they might never be ready.
“I just said, let’s just move forward. I’ll make their decision easier,” Beilein said. “I felt like, well, if they’re not certain — and I understand that, it’s OK — but if they’re not certain, then I’m not going to be certain.”
If they had been certain a week ago? Who knows. John Beilein might have been introduced as the head coach of the Detroit Pistons. Instead, a few long, tumultuous days put his world in focus.
There are a few distinct ways to look at the above:
- You’re a Michigan fan that didn’t want him to go anywhere and are relieved
- You are a Pistons fan who is already frustrated with the delay in firing Stan Van Gundy, the hiring of a series of advisers and the lack of action on hiring a GM and head coach, and you are pissed
- You are a Pistons fan who is glad they didn’t rush their process and are conducting a full search and will finally, hopefully find the coach and executive that can help the team escape a decade of purgatory
If I’m being honest, I’m closer to the second bullet than I am the third. I don’t have the hangups people seem to expressing about hiring advisers and doing a thorough search, but I also really thought Beilein was the best candidate for the job, and I was hoping he would be the next Pistons head coach.
Still, Udoka and Casey seem like quality candidates ... and there is always Kenny Smith, right?