Steve Kerr got news of the his friend and protege’s change-in-plans early. Wednesday afternoon, Kerr got a call from Steve Nash, telling him that he was leaving his consultant role with the Warriors to take on the head gig in Brooklyn.
Kerr said he was surprised, but has no doubts Nash will ultimately succeed, despite a lack of traditional experience. Five years with the Warriors when they were at their peak certainly plays a role in how he sees himself and his role in Brooklyn.
“I had no idea until yesterday afternoon and he called me just out of courtesy since he technically worked for us,” Steve Kerr told Tim Kawakawi of The Athletic. “He didn’t need to ask permission, obviously, but he just respectfully called me ... incredible hire.”
In interviews since the Thursday announcement, Warriors front office types like Kerr have argued that the lack of traditional pathway shouldn’t make people think he’s unprepared. He is.
“Yeah, he’ll be fine,” Kerr told The Athletic He knows the drill. He’s been in the league forever and he knows the game as well as anybody and he understands people. And I think he’s very wise, so he’ll hire a good staff. And everything that he needs to learn, he’ll learn quickly. It’ll happen so quickly for him just to get the rhythm and the feel and I’m sure he’ll hire a great staff to help him along.”
Kerr added that Nash had an effect on the Warriors’ success in tangible if non-traditional ways beyond his amorphous title, “player development consultant.” He’s got two rings to prove it.
“His communication skills are off the charts because of his humility and confidence and his knowledge,” Kerr told The Athletic. “He just has a really unique approach to training that he developed over the course of his career. And [current Warriors director of sports medicine and performance and longtime Nash associate] Rick Celebrini sort of developed their philosophy as they went, as Steve was playing and they kind of built this whole program together.
“It’s all connected, the weight room and the training room and the court. And Steve is living proof of how important a program like that can be, where your body is really in tune with your mind, your balance, your coordination. You’re working on some things that maybe aren’t traditional basketball practices.”
Adrian Wojnarowski also wrote of Nash’s role in Warriors operations. In writing about his talk with Bob Myers, the Warrior GM. Woj called Nash’s presence at the training facility “infrequent.” Still, Myers suggested there was real value in having such an iconic figure around, one without a big contract or axe to grind.
“Steve Nash has the ability to walk out onto the court and earn the immediate respect of Kevin Durant or Steph Curry or Klay Thompson — and there aren’t too many people in the world who can do that,” Myers told ESPN. “More than that, though, he can communicate with them effectively and efficiently.
“There’s so much value in the little things, the small details that he can share to guys at that level. There’s not a lot of teaching left for the most accomplished players in the world. Steph is not going to listen to many people about his jump shot. Steve might be one of the only people in the world outside of Dell [Curry] that he’d give an audience on that conversation.”
So, if he’s had the “itch,” as he’s said to Marc J. Spears, why didn’t he scratch it earlier.
“I think he was trying out life without a big job in basketball, without the scrutiny, to see what it felt like to have to have some space and breathe again,” Myers told ESPN. “I believed he would eventually do something like this, because he has so much to give — his intellect, experience, ability — and he’d want to share that knowledge.”
Nash also told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he gained something else in the job: a greater proximity to Kevin Durant. They may have known either before the two of them wound by the Bay, but the relationship deepened.
“It dates back to when I was finishing my career and we would work out together, and working with him with the Warriors,” Nash said. “I think that there is a trust, a commonality and a language between us when it comes to the game that has developed over time. That definitely is important. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen and to have his confidence is really important.”
Bottom line, of course, is that the Nets would like Nash to replicate Kerr’s success. A number of point/lead guards have gone directly from retirement to a head coaching job. Isiah Thomas with the Pacers; Kerr and before him Mark Jackson with the Warriors; Doc Rivers with the Magic; Jason Kidd with the Nets, Derek Fisher with the Knicks and even for a brief period, Magic Johnson with the Lakers. But Kerr is the pinnacle and model for dealing with big personalities as well as big contracts.
Meanwhile, Stefan Bondy spoke with Jerry Colangelo, the Suns owner when Nash was at his best.
“It’s all just speculation because of the fact is that he hasn’t coached on any level, at any time. And so it’s a big unknown,” Colangelo told the Daily News. “Does that mean he’s starting behind the 8-ball? Not necessarily. When you talk about his attributes as a player, his intellect, his basketball acumen, his communication skills, you could build a case saying because of all those positives, and the relationship he has with a couple of the stars he has on the team in Kevin [Durant] and Kyrie [Irving], that all adds up to a positive opportunity. No guarantees. There were no guarantees no matter who was going to be hired. Because there are so many variables.
“But when you hire somebody, a man of character, commitment, knowledgeable in the attributes I listed a minute ago. That’s a pretty good package. The one missing ingredient, the one box that’s not checked, is experience.”
- Steve Kerr confident Steve Nash can handle Nets pressure - Zach Braziller - New York Post
- Nets see Steve Nash as their version of Steve Kerr - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Steve Nash and Kevin Durant’s strong bond a main factor why he’s new coach of Nets - Steve Popper - Newsday
- N.B.A.’s Head Coaching Diversity Under Scrutiny as Vacancies Loom - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- Suns and NBA legend Jerry Colangelo calls Steve Nash’s hiring ‘a good gamble,’ adds the critiques about his race aren’t fair to people involved - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Why the Nets wanted Steve Nash to coach Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving - Adrian Wojnarowski - ESPN
- 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