The Steve Nash Hire Isn’t About White Privilege

Like Steve Kerr (l.) before him, Steve Nash got an NBA head coach job with no head coaching experience.

Like Steve Kerr (l.) before him, Steve Nash got an NBA head coach job with no head coaching experience.
Image: AP

Context, reasoning, and facts don’t exist anymore. They’ve been replaced by a lack of information and emotional overreactions.


Exhibit A: Thursday’s announcement that Steve Nash has been hired as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

“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. One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed first hand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success. His instincts for the game, combined with an inherent ability to communicate with and unite players towards a common goal, will prepare us to compete at the highest levels of the league,” read a statement from Nets GM Sean Marks.


When news broke there were one of two immediate reactions: Outrage because Nash has no experience. Or, outrage because Nash got the job because he’s white.

Both of those claims are dumb, let alone meritless.

Let me explain.

While it’s true that Nash has never been a head coach on any level, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before.

Sidebar: This is the part where I remind you that Lawrence Frank once led the Nets to two division titles, and he didn’t even play basketball in college. He was the team manager at Indiana.

But, back to Nash.

When Doc Rivers took over the Orlando Magic in 1999, he had no coaching experience. By the end of his first season on the sidelines, he had been named Coach of the Year.


In 2000, the Pacers hired Isiah Thomas to lead their team with no prior coaching experience. They made the playoffs each season he was there.

Mark Jackson had no experience when he took over the Golden State Warriors, and he wound up laying the foundation for one of the greatest teams in NBA history. The man who replaced him, Steve Kerr, also didn’t have a lick of experience, and we know how that turned out.


In 2013, the Nets hired Jason Kidd, and he had just retired a few months earlier. Kidd’s team made it to the second round of the playoffs. And in his five seasons as an NBA coach, with the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, his teams have made the playoffs in three of those years.

Oh yeah, Derek Fisher also got an NBA head coaching job without any experience. It was a total disaster, but it’s more proof that people being angry about Nash getting hired makes no sense, given that the idea isn’t unusual.


Now let’s address the racial aspect since Stephen A. Smith, of all people, seems to be upset by this.


“Ladies and gentlemen there is no way around this. This is white privilege,” said Smith on Thursday’s morning edition of ESPN’s “First Take.”


“This does not happen for a Black man. No experience whatsoever on any level as a coach? And you get the Brooklyn Nets job?”

If you go back to the list of the coaches I named that got NBA head coaching jobs with no experience, and include Nash, it means that four of the six of them have been Black.


Hey Stephen A., I guess this does actually happen for Black men.

As I said, context, reasoning, and facts have been replaced by a lack of information and emotional overreactions.


Now, does this mean that white privilege isn’t real, especially when it comes to coaching hires in sports?

Hell no.

We see it all the time. But this instance isn’t that, because this was all about fit.


“Kevin (Durant) and Steve (Nash) have an incredible relationship,” said former NBAer and ESPN analyst Jay Williams on the same airwaves that Smith works for. “Look, the reality comes down to who will ultimately Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trust. They had to put their stamp on this relationship in order for it to come to fruition.”


Nash spent five seasons as a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, where he built a relationship with Durant. He’s also one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, which is something Irving wants to be known as one day.

And besides, it’s not like any other candidate on the market is an eight-time NBA All-Star who played 18 seasons, won back-to-back MVPs, was the face of one of the most revolutionary offenses in league history, and is already in the Hall of Fame.


Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn couldn’t compete with that. And for anybody wondering why San Antonio assistant coach Becky Hammon didn’t get a shot, it’s because this wasn’t the job for her. Her time is coming. Irving and Durant wanted their own coach, which is why the Nets picked somebody they felt comfortable with.

According to Woj, Vaughn will stay on and become the league’s best compensated assistant coach. And you can bet that the rest of the staff will be made up of veteran coaches that will be there to guide Nash.


Now, since I’ve given you context, reasoning, and facts, do you see why your initial reaction to this news was probably wrong?


I’m just trying to save you from the ranting and raving Stephen A. Smith did, as he incorrectly labeled this as white privilege.


Given that he’s the same dude that said, “(Colin) Kaepernick doesn’t want to play, he wants to be a martyr.”

Knowledge is power.

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