ESPN host Stephen A. Smith slammed the newly-announced hiring of NBA Hall-of-Famer Steve Nash as the Brooklyn Nets head coach, claiming it’s “white privilege” that landed him the job.
Smith began by prefacing that he was about to share the “toughest, toughest positions” he’s ever taken and that while Nash has “no coaching experience,” he’s an “outlier” as a gifted player and mentor.
“Steve Nash is a sensational dude and if anybody deserves this opportunity absent the experience that obviously he has as a coach, it’s him,” Smith said. “Steve Nash is widely respected and loved by whole bunch of people in the NBA — Black, White and beyond.”
Smith congratulated Nash, and he said that his criticism was not about his ability as a player or who likes him.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way around it: This is white privilege,” Smith declared. “This does not happen for a Black man. No experience on any level as a coach and you get the Brooklyn Nets job?”
The ESPN host cited Los Angeles Clippers assistant coaches Tyronn Lue and Sam Cassell as examples of those who were “passed up” for Nash, who he referred to as “one of the best guys you could possibly meet in your life” but stressed his lack of experience.
“Sometimes, you just want to scream — want to scream to the high heavens: How the hell is this always happening for somebody else other than us?” Smith exclaimed. “Why is it that we have to be twice as good to get half as much? Why is it that no matter what we do, or how hard we work, and how we go through the process and the terrain of everything … somehow, someway, there’s another excuse to ignore that criteria to ignore those credentials and instead bypass it and make an exception to the rule for someone other than us.”
The Hall of Fame point guard and the Nets agreed to a four-year deal for him to take over as the coach replacing interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over the role after the team fired Kenny Atkinson earlier in the season, ESPN first reported Sept. 3.
The Nets general manager said the decision on who to hire was a difficult decision to make. Nash was selected because he was viewed as a leader, communicator and mentor who is expected to garner the respect of the players.
“I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years. [He’s] one of the great on-court leaders in our game,” general manager Sean Marks said in a press release. “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.”
Nash is an accomplished athlete but he has no coaching experience in the NBA.
He played 18 seasons in the NBA with the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers. He was an eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA First Team nominee, two-time NBA MVP, and led the league in assists five times.
He retired from the NBA during the middle of the 2013-14 season over health concerns.