Steve Nash chosen as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets
Hall of Fame point guard to lead Brooklyn into new era
Sean Marks pulled a fast one.
Now, Brooklynites will wait to see if he picked the right one.
In a stunning move that virtually no one saw coming, the Nets’ general manager tabbed former two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash as the team’s new head coach ahead of the most anticipated season in franchise history.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” said Marks in a team-issued statement Thursday morning.
“In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players.”
After much speculation regarding the coveted position, Marks threw everyone a curve ball by hiring Nash, who has no previous coaching experience.
Future Hall of Famer Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, NBA championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue, former Nets icon Jason Kidd and ex-Knicks head coach Mike Woodson had all been mentioned as potential candidates for the post since Brooklyn was bounced from the NBA bubble in Orlando.
News came down Wednesday that interim head coach Jacque Vaughn had “impressed” the Nets’ braintrust with his interview to retain the position a day earlier.
But Marks opted for Nash, who has spent the previous five years as a player-development consultant for the Golden State Warriors, where Brooklyn superstar Kevin Durant had won a pair of NBA titles and reached the Finals three years in a row before signing with the Nets last summer.
“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,” added Marks.
“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.”
In addition, Marks announced that Vaughn, who guided Brooklyn to a 7-7 record and an Eastern Conference playoff berth despite fielding a makeshift roster sans the likes of Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan, would return to Brooklyn as lead assistant coach.
“We are thrilled to retain Jacque as a leading member of our coaching staff,” continued Marks. “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.”
Durant and Irving, the superstar tandem Marks brought here to lead the Nets to their first-ever NBA title, doubtlessly had input in the hiring, which comes just a week and half after Brooklyn’s four-game sweep at the hands of the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
“We are excited to welcome Steve to the Nets family and look forward to a successful and meaningful partnership,” said Nets and Barclays Center owner Joe 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, a 46-year-old Canadian, played 18 seasons in the league for Phoenix, where he won back-to-back MVPs in 2005 and 2006, Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The eight-time NBA All-Star was one of the most exciting and innovative points guards of his era, ranking third all-time with 10,335 career assists.
His initial coaching stint will be a pressurized one.
Nash inherits a team that expects to seriously compete for an Eastern Conference crown, if not an NBA title, with the return of Durant and Irving from injuries alongside a strong supporting cast featuring Jordan, Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris, if he re-signs here as a free agent.
“I am honored to have this opportunity with such a first-class organization and would like to thank Sean, Joe [Tsai] and his wife, Clara, for having faith in my ability to lead this team forward,” said Nash.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, Nash was a member of Team Canada from 1993-2004 and served as general manager for his home nation’s senior national team from 2012-19.
He played collegiately at Santa Clara University before being selected 15th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft.
Though he had resisted coaching since his retirement from playing five years ago, Nash is diving into this opportunity with great enthusiasm, much the way he dribbled and drove past opponents for the better part of two decades on the hardwood.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
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