ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith didn’t seem all that happy to hear that the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets hired Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash, a white man, as their new head coach.
Nash was hired Thursday to lead the franchise, which is expected to have superstar forward/guard Kevin Durant back from injury to compliment point guard Kyrie Irving next season.
Despite Nash’s resume, which includes two league MVP awards and numerous other accolades, Smith claimed the 46-year-old would not have been hired if he were black.
“Congratulations to him, he deserves it, I get it,” Smith, who is black, said Thursday on ESPN’s “First Take
“But this ain’t about him, what I’m about to say,” Smith added.
The ESPN host continued: “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way around this. This is white privilege. This does not happen for a black man.”
Smith further complained Nash has “no experience whatsoever on any level as a coach.”
It’s worth noting that Mark Jackson, Doc Rivers, Jason Kidd and Bill Russell are among the black coaches who have been offered NBA head coaching jobs in the past, despite having no coaching experience.
Nash, meanwhile, was a first-round draft pick in 1996.
After 18 seasons in the NBA, most of them with the Phoenix Suns, Nash retired in 2015.
Nash worked as a consultant for the championship-winning 2017 and 2018 Golden State Warriors.
The Nets announced the eight-time All-Star would lead the team Thursday, ESPN reported.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement.
“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. 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.”
Nash also released a statement.
“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,” he said.
“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,” Nash added.
Nash has been floated as a candidate for numerous NBA coaching vacancies since his retirement.