NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley criticized ESPN host Stephen Smith for labeling the hiring of a white head coach by the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets as “white privilege.”
“I was very disappointed with some of the guys on television today talking about ‘white privilege,’” Barkley said on TNT Thursday night in reference to Smith’s comments earlier in the day suggesting that race was a factor in the hiring of NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash as the Brooklyn Nets head coach despite his lack of coaching experience. “They’re like, ‘Well, this doesn’t happen to black guys.’ I’m like, ‘It happened to Doc Rivers, it happened to Jason Kidd, it happened to Derek Fisher.’ So I was really disappointed.”
“When you have a responsibility, especially when you have to talk about something serious like race, you can’t be full of crap,” Barkley added. “You’ve got to be honest and fair.”
Barkley went on to say that Nash is a “great player and a good dude” and agreed that the NBA needs more black coaches but argued it “wasn’t the right time” to have that conversation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way around this,” Smith said Thursday morning on ESPN in response to news of Nash’s hiring. “This is white privilege. This does not happen for a black man.”
“You just want to scream. You want to scream to high heavens. How the hell does this always happen for somebody else other than us? 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 and 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?”
Smith was widely criticized for injecting race into the conversation surrounding Nash’s hiring Thursday, including from his ESPN colleague Jay Williams, who pointed out that the team’s two superstar players, both black, signed off on the hiring.
“Come on SA. Steve Nash being chosen over Mark Jackson/Ty Lue is not “White Privilege”.. 2 superstar black athletes ultimately made the decision & we know who they are and what they are about,” Williams tweeted.
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