The Brooklyn Nets recently announced Steve Nash as their new head coach, signing the former two-time MVP to a four-year deal on Sept. 3.
Reaction to the signing was mixed, with some applauding the Nets for signing a respected leader and all-time great point guard while others questioned the selection due to limited coaching experience compared to other available candidates — many of them being black.
Possible candidates included the likes of the Nets’ interim head coach during the playoffs, Jacque Vaughn, Alvin Gentry, Mark Jackson, Nate McMillan, and even championship-proven Ty Lue.
With the hiring of Nash, there are only five black coaches in a league of 30 teams. At the start of the season in October 2019, there were seven. On opening night in 2012, there were 15 coaches of color in the league — 14 of them were black.
“So many good point guards make good coaches,” said sophomore E.J. Nelson. “He [Nash] was such a good leader for so long on so many different teams.”
“He’s been doing player development since he’s been out of the league, with KD [Kevin Durant] in particular,” Nelson said, referring to Nash’s tenure with the Golden State Warriors as a player development coach during Durant’s time in the Bay Area.
On top of Nash’s relationship with Durant, he will also be paired with Kyrie Irving, a top point guard in the league who Nash will also be able to mentor as his coach.
“I think from the perspective of his contract, four years is too much, especially with the lack of coaching experience he has,” said junior Brett Grospitch.
“I would’ve rather seen a one to two year ‘prove it’ deal instead of a long term contract,” Grospitch said.
Choosing Nash, who is just 46 years old, shows the Nets are looking for a spark of energy to add to the franchise and willing to take a chance on a young coach with limited experience, on the return that he could be around for a while along with the likes of Durant and Irving.
As far as candidates who were passed up, Grospitch thinks hiring a coach like Nash is just as much of a toss-up as the coaches many say were overlooked.
“A lot of the coaches that were passed up on, regardless of color, weren’t super successful before so for the Nets to take a shot in the dark on Nash is pretty interesting,” he said.