In an out-of-the-blue move that’s even more surprising than last year’s Clean Sweep, the Nets have named Hall of Famer Steve Nash as the 23rd head coach in the franchise’s NBA history.
Marc Stein first broke the news, followed seconds later by Adrian Wojnarowski, their tweets nearly simultaneous with the Nets official announcement.
The Nets have hired Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as their new head coach, @NYTSports has learned— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 3, 2020
Hall of Fame guard Steve Nash has signed a four-year contract to become the next coach of the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 3, 2020
Anthony Puccio tweeted that the decision was actually made months ago!
I’m told Brooklyn’s decision to hire Steve Nash was made in May.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) September 3, 2020
Team discussed a few options as early as March, including Gregg Popovich. #Nets
Sean Marks was Steve Nash’s biggest advocate back when Brooklyn started their head coaching search, per source.— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) September 3, 2020
Stars played a role, but Marks was ready to embrace “full change” at the head coaching position.
The team also announced that Jacque Vaughn, who replaced Kenny Atkinson as head coach in early March, will be retained as lead assistant. He’ll likely be the NBA’s highest paid assistant coach. Nash, a native of South Africa who grew up in Canada and played 18 NBA seasons, has no head or assistant coaching experience.
Nash joins the Nets following five seasons as a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, where he contributed to two NBA Championship teams and made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. In that capacity, he worked with Kevin Durant, one of the Nets two superstars. In fact, KD has said that Nash, already with the Warriors, was one of the last people he spoke to before joining Golden State back in 2016.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” said Sean Marks, who played with Nash on the Suns between 2006 and 2008.
“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,” Marks continued. “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. We are excited to welcome Steve, Lilla, Lola, Bella, Matteo, Luca and Ruby to Brooklyn.”
Marks, in a later interview with Woj, reported that it was Nash who made the initial move.
“Steve searched me out when he knew the job was open, said look, I want to put my hat in the ring here,” said Marks. “We started talking, it moved very quickly. But obviously excited to have a guy his caliber, his stature to be coming in here to lead this organization forward.”
Marks also praised Vaughn, who many had seen as a front runner for the head coaching job after the Nets went 5-3 in the “bubble” seeding games before being swept by the Raptors.
“We are thrilled to retain Jacque as a leading member of our coaching staff,” he said. “Jacque has been an integral part of our program and a key contributor to the growth and development of our entire organization. His role in developing our players both on and off the court and his influence driving our culture have been invaluable. Our players will benefit from the continuity of Jacque’s presence, and we are extremely fortunate to keep him in our Nets family.”
Nash, who’s long had a place in Manhattan’s SOHO neighborhood and run charity soccer matches in Central Park, expressed his thanks to the organization.
“I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization and would like to thank Sean, Joe and his wife, Clara, for having faith in my ability to lead this team forward,” 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.”
Separately, he told Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated, that he hopes to continue the fight for social justice as Nets coach.
“As a human being, it’s hard to live with racial injustice,” Nash told The Undefeated in a phone interview on Thursday. “It’s important for white people to take a deep look at what is occurring in our communities and what has been occurring for 400 years. A component of this conversation needs to be that white people need to not be offensive about white privilege or inequality. They just need to be honest, have those conversations and ask ourselves how we would feel if we had endured this 400-plus-year history.
“So, for me, it’s hurtful and it’s wrong. That’s why I have expressed my opinion on the matters because some of us are hurting and it’s not fair.”
Joe Tsai welcomed Nash to Brooklyn.
“We are excited to welcome Steve to the Nets family and look forward to a successful and meaningful partnership,” said Tsai. “Steve shares our vision for the future of this franchise and his character exemplifies the core principles of our organization in working to serve our communities. I can’t wait for Steve to get started.”
Nash becomes the latest point guard to go directly from retirement to head coach. As Woj noted, the list includes Doc Rivers (Magic), Isiah Thomas (Pacers), Mark Jackson (Warriors) Steve Kerr (Warriors), Derek Fisher (Knicks) and Jason Kidd (Nets).
But still the news came as a complete shock to virtually everyone, as Richard Jefferson’s face showed in an ESPN interview.
Nash’s connection to Durant no doubt played a large role in the hire. Marks said in June that KD had a “very loud voice” in team decisions. The two have been friends for years and in fact, Nash played a role in KD’s decision to join the Warriors.
“As I was making the decision to come here,” Durant told Tim Kawakami, then of the San Jose Mercery-News, back in 2016. “I asked Nash for some advice.”
“I asked him about Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) and the type of people they are day to day,” Durant said of the talk with Nash. “Obviously I didn’t know much about that, how they approached their jobs, how they approach working.
“And he had great things to say, just like everybody else I asked. I trust his judgment.”
Steve Kerr who was GM in Phoenix, then coach of Golden State, said Durant and Nash have a long standing friendship.
“There was an existing relationship before we even signed Kevin,” Kerr told Kawakami now of The Athletic on Thursday. “And you can even look online, I wouldn’t call it a documentary, but some kind of TV show where he interviewed Kevin and you could tell they really hit it off in this interview. I think Kevin has great respect for Steve because he watched him growing up and then played against him late in Steve’s career. There’s an inherent respect. Mutual respect.”
Jay Williams who works with KD at his Thirty-Five Ventures, told ESPN Thursday morning that trust was a big part of the process hiring Nash.
“Kevin and Steve have an incredible relationship. Look: The reality comes down to who ultimately will Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trust? They had to put their stamp on this relationship,” said Williams.
Nash also reached out to another old friend, Dirk Nowitzki, to ask if he wanted to join the Nets as an assistant coach. The recently retired Nowitzki, who played with Nash in Dallas, declined, Marc Stein reported.
Nash played with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 while playing for the Suns, becoming just the 10th player in NBA history to win the award in consecutive seasons. Nash was named to All-NBA teams seven times throughout his career, earning first-team honors three times (2005-07), while twice being named to the second (2008, 2010) and third teams (2002, 2003).
A five-time assist champion, Nash currently ranks third in NBA history with 10,335 career assists. The culmination of his brilliant playing career came in 2018 when Nash was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Nets plan to introduce Nash at a virtual press conference next Wednesday, September 9.
- Steve Nash Hired as Coach of Brooklyn Nets - Marc Stein - New York Times
- N.B.A.’s Head Coaching Diversity Under Scrutiny as Vacancies Loom - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- Brooklyn Nets hire Hall of Famer Steve Nash as head coach - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN
- Why the Nets wanted Steve Nash to coach Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN
- Steve Nash satisfies ‘coaching itch,’ eager to reconnect with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving with Nets - Marc J. Spears - ESPN
- Steve Nash will use his voice as Nets coach: ‘It’s important to support this fight’ - Marc J. Spears - The Undefeated
- The NBA world reacts to Steve Nash becoming the Nets’ new head coach - ESPN
- NBA debate: How does Steve Nash fit with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets? - ESPN
- How the Brooklyn Nets find another star to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant for new coach Steve Nash - Bobby Marks
- Stephen A: Nash will do a ‘hell of a job in Brooklyn,’ but being hired with no coaching experience is white privilege (Video) - Steven A Smith - ESPN
- Kevin Arnovitz on Nash to the Nets and DEFCON 1 for the Bucks (Audio) - ESPN
- Nets hire Hall of Famer Steve Nash to run floor as coach - Brian Mahnoney - AP
- Steve Nash stunningly named Nets’ new coach - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Having Kevin Durant’s ‘confidence’ is huge for Steve Nash - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Steve Nash as Nets coach should not come as big surprise - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Stephen A. Smith: Nets’ Steve Nash hire was ‘white privilege’ - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- RJ Barrett’s dad Rowan: Friend Steve Nash ‘ready’ to be Nets coach - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Charles Barkley fires back at ‘white privilege’ anger after Steve Nash hire - Mollie Walker - New York Post
- Steve Nash hired as Brooklyn Nets head coach - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets hire Steve Nash as new head coach, Jacque Vaughn to be lead assistant - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- It’s on NBA players to save the Black head coach now - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets’ risky hiring of Steve Nash will rise or fall with connection to Kevin Durant - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Breaking: Nets hire Hall of Famer Steve Nash as head coach - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- What Steve Nash brought to the Warriors and now adds to the Nets - Tim Kawakami - The Athletic NBA
- Steve Nash: Precursor to the modern star - Seth Partnow - The Athletic NBA
- Disparities on display after Steve Nash lands Nets job - Darnell Mayberry - The Athletic NBA
- For Black coaches looking for an NBA shot, relationships matter as much as race - David Aldridge - The Athletic NBA
- Jared Dudley unplugged: On Lakers-Rockets, that walkout meeting, Steve Nash and more - Sam Amick - The Athletic NBA
- Steve Nash Reached Out to Dirk Nowitzki About Assistant Coach Role in Brooklyn - Jordan Cohn - WFAN
- Opposing exec likes Nash hire for Nets, but ‘not sure’ Kyrie will respect him - Sam Amico - Sports Illustrated
- Steve Nash named Brooklyn Nets head coach - Ricky O’Donnell - SB Nation
- Breaking down the risk and reward of Nets hiring Steve Nash as head coach - Ian Begley - SNY
- Nets name Hall of Famer Steve Nash as new head coach - Scott Thompson - SNY
- Why Steve Nash already has a head start as Nets head coach - Ryan Morik - SNY
- Is Nets’ Hiring of Steve Nash a ‘Compromise Choice’ for Both the GM and the Players? - Steve Lichtenstein - WFAN
- Nets’ Steve Nash joins list of NBA head coaches with no prior coaching experience - Kurt Helin - NBC Sports
- Brooklyn Nets Name Steve Nash Head Coach Entering The Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving Era - Adam Zagoria - Forbes Sports
- Is Steve Nash the right hire for the Nets? Executives, coaches and scouts weigh in - Michael Scotto - Hoopshype
- The Steve Nash Hire Isn’t About White Privilege - Carron J. Phillips - Deadspin
- Steve Nash faces new challenge with Nets - Steve Aschburner - NBA.com
- Canadian Steve Nash hired as head coach of Brooklyn Nets - Dave Pollard - Vancouver Province
- Steve Nash is back in the NBA and the expectations are huge - Scott Stinson - Vancouver Province
- Brooklyn Nets hired like a European soccer team in making Steve Nash their head coach - Cathal Kelly - Toronto Globe & Mail
- BROOKLYN NETS NAME STEVE NASH AS HEAD COACH - Brooklyn Nets
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