On Thursday, August 3, the Brooklyn Nets named Steve Nash as its 23rd head coach. As per reports, Nash signed a four-year deal in what will be his first time coaching an NBA team full-time. Prior to this, Nash was a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors for five seasons.
Nets owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks had reportedly been aggressive in recruiting Nash to make the move to coaching. “After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Marks said in a statement. “In Steve, we see a leader, communicator, and mentor who will garner the respect of our players. I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years.”
“We are excited to welcome Steve to the Nets family and look forward to a successful and meaningful partnership,” Tsai said in a statement. “Steve shares our vision for the future of this franchise and his character exemplifies the core principles of our organization in working to serve our communities. I can’t wait for Steve to get started.”
“I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization and would like to thank Sean, Joe, and his wife, Clara, for having faith in my ability to lead this team forward,” Nash said about his appointment. “Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn. I am as excited about the prospects of the team on the court as I am about moving to Brooklyn with my family and becoming impactful members of this community.”
But is everyone happy with the decision? Apparently not. Sports television personality Stephen A. Smith, a commentator on ESPN’s ‘First Take’, was not pleased. On his show, Smith, while congratulating and praising Nash, made a commentary, prefacing it with “this ain’t about him.”
Smith said about his appointment, “This is White privilege. This does not happen for a Black man. No experience whatsoever? On any level as a coach? And you get the Brooklyn Nets job? I know that Kyrie [Irving] and KD (Kevin Durant) have both signed on this. I know they both support this move. But I’m thinking about a champion that is Ty Lue, passed up. I’m thinking about a guy who built the foundation for the Golden State Warriors in Marc Jackson, passed up. I’m thinking about the years that Sam Cassell has served as an assistant, first in the nation’s capital in D.C. and now with the Los Angeles Clippers, passed up.”
He further said, “It’s for a guy — my guy, one of the best guys you could possibly meet in your life and may do a fantastic job. But a guy that has no experience whatsoever, in these times where we’re making all of this noise about social justice — I got news of y’all. I have said this to people on numerous occasions, right here on this show: Yes, that was the tipping point, George Floyd’s killing, his murder.”
Smith spoke about the “violence against Black men who are unarmed”, and said that the frustration from the Black community is “that proverbial glass ceiling and the fact that it breeds a level of frustration that we can’t even put into words sometimes, you just wanna scream. Wanna scream to the high heavens, ‘How the hell does this always happen for somebody else other than us? Why do we have to be twice as good to get half as much? Why is it that no matter what we do and how hard we work and how we go through the process and the terrain of everything, somehow, someway, there’s another excuse to ignore that criteria?’”
“To ignore those credentials and instead bypass it and make an exception to the rule for someone other than us. So I’m depressed right now because I have to bring that up,” Smith said.
On social media, many seemed to agree with Smith and aired similar views. One Twitter user wrote, “Congratulations to Steve Nash on being White. Hell of an opportunity.”