Brooklyn Nets fans still have not fully recovered from the questionable firing of former head coach Kenny Atkinson in March.
Now, the Nets’ upper management, notably general manager Sean Marks, has made another controversial move at the head coaching position with the hiring of Steve Nash. Choosing Nash, who has no prior coaching experience, over several other candidates, could be viewed as the Nets thinking outside the box. It’s as shocking as Atkinson’s firing this past March.
“In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players, said Marks. “I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years, one of the great on-court leaders in our game.
“I have witnessed firsthand 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.”
Marks retained veteran coach Jacque Vaughn as an assistant on Nash’s staff. Vaughn served as the Nets’ interim head coach after Atkinson’s dismissal and did a solid job in leading the team through their first round playoff defeat against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA bubble.
Nash, 46, a two-time NBA MVP and an eight-time All-Star, played 18 seasons in the league for three different franchises after being drafted by the Phoenix Suns with the 15th overall pick in 1996. The 6-foot-3 point guard, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, also played for the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers.
After retiring at the end of the 2015 season, Nash became a player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors then achieved the best record in the history of the NBA, going 73-9 but falling short in the 2016 Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. During Nash’s five seasons with the Warriors, they won two NBA championships and made four consecutive trips to the Finals.
Nash inherits a roster that if healthy will be expected to compete for the Eastern Conference title highlighted by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and bolstered by budding young stars Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. There is little doubt that Durant, who was with Nash at Golden State, and Irving, both who wield significant influence with the Nets, approved of Nash’s hiring.
“I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization,” said Nash. “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.”
Taking over a ready made team and seemingly afforded a favorable opportunity based more on relationships than merit, Nash will be under an intense microscope and scrutiny in Brooklyn.