by John Walters
The New York Nets have hired two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash as their head coach, a move that Stephen A. Smith publicly decries as “white privilege.”
Let’s unravel SAS’ words, while acknowledging that he just gift-wrapped a “Kick Me, I’m ESPN!” sign to the bros over at OutClick The Coverage. First, SAS mentions the black men who were passed over for the job:
- Mark Jackson: Who had NEVER been a coach when the Golden State Warriors hired him in 2011, handed him the keys to what would become the most talented NBA team of the decade, and Jackson promptly failed to get them to the NBA Finals in any of the three years he was their head coach. Moreover, Jackson actually seemed bothered by Stephen Curry’s success. What happened after the Dubs canned Jackson and replaced him with Steve Kerr, who is a spiritual brother of Nash’s (even the names are similar)? They went to five consecutive NBA Finals.
- Tyronn Lue: Had never been a head coach until the Cavaliers elevated him to replace David Blatt, who was not smart enough to let LeBron be LeBron. Don’t know if Lue’s worthy or not, only that he’s smart enough to keep his mouth shut when LeBron is
3. Sam Cassell: I have no idea if Cassell, currently an assistant with the Clippers, will be a good or bad NBA head coach. I do know that the head coach of the Clippers, Doc Rivers, is a terrific coach who, like Nash, had never coached at any level before he was hired as an NBA head coach by the Orlando Magic in 1999.
Nash, a two-time NBA MVP and one of the best players and teammates the league has ever seen, has unimpeachable character. He has always been able to relate to players of all sizes and colors. He has international life experience and will relate to players who were not born in the USA. And he will have two of the league’s top 10 players, at least before they were injured, in his starting five. So, yes, he is stepping into an excellent situation.
Will he be a great NBA coach? It’s hard to say given all the talent he’ll have around him. Phil Jackson had Michael and Scottie and then Shaq and Kobe and yes, he did alright for himself. Red Auerbach had all those Celtics greats. Gregg Popovich suddenly wasn’t as great an NBA coach without his International Trio.
Great players help make great coaches. But as far as “deserving it” goes, both Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr had never been head coaches anywhere before the Warriors hired each of them the past decade. We know who did better, and it’s not close. And it’s not because Kerr is white that he did better. But to say that Nash’s hiring is “white privilege” while also “congratulating” him on getting the job, well, that’s just b.s.
And bringing in the murder of George Floyd to punctuate your argument is simply exploiting his death. Nash’s player bona fides are far superior to those of Jackson or Rivers, both of whom landed an NBA head coaching job without ever having coached, either.