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Steve Nash talks white privilege, getting Brooklyn coaching job, more

Steve Nash Brooklyn

Steve Nash former NBA player during the La Liga Santander match between FC Barcelona and RCD Mallorca in Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona 07 of December of 2019, Spain. (Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto via Getty Images

When Steve Nash was hired as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, it turned a few heads around the NBA: How did a white former player with no coaching experience leapfrog a number of Black assistant coaches (some former players, also) who had been paying their dues? ESPN’s bombastic Stephen A. Smith called it a case of white privilege.

Nash addressed that idea in his introductory press conference Wednesday, admitting he has benefitted from white privilege in his life, and that he “skipped the line” in landing this job, but adding this case is different. Via Yahoo Sports:

“I have benefited from white privilege,” Nash said. “Our society has a lot of ground to make up. I’m not saying that this position is a factor as far as white privilege. ... I think as white people we have to understand that we get served a privilege and a benefit (because of) the color of our skin in our communities. We have a long way to go to find equality and social and racial justice. I hope that I’m a great ally to that cause. This is something that Clara and Joe Tsai have really made an incredible gesture to help within our organization, but also in our communities to help stem the gap in racial injustice.

“I’m very sensitive to the cause and the goal. I’m not sure that this is an example that materially fits that conversation. But I own it, and I understand why that’s important to talk about it and that we do need more diversity and more opportunity for African American coaches and staff in all capacities.”

Nash was hired as the Nets coach because a few things came together for him. First and foremost, he had a strong relationship with Kevin Durant going back to the Warriors (where Nash was a consultant helping with player development). Nobody was getting hired to coach the Nets without a thumbs up from Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Second, Nash also had a strong relationship with Nets GM Sean Marks, going back 20 years, before they were teammates in Phoenix. The NBA is all about relationships, and this one paved the way for Nash to be the coach. Finally, Nash was the kind of splashy, big-name hire the Nets needed in the New York market.

Nash talked about more than just his hiring. He praised Irving as a player.

Nash also addressed why he wanted to make this move now.