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Steve Nash all in for Brooklyn Nets’ first NBA title

Nets 'playing for a championship' next season, he says

October 29, 2020 John Torenli
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Nets head coach Steve Nash wants to deliver Brooklyn’s first major pro sports championship since the Dodgers beat the arch-rival Yankees in the 1955 World Series.

And he isn’t the least bit shy about saying it.

“We’re playing for a championship,” Nash stated plainly during Tuesday night’s virtual Town Hall on the Yes Network.

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“I don’t want to say that anything less than a championship is not a success because you never know what happens in life, you never know the way the ball bounces. Fortune is a big part of winning an NBA championship.”

Fortune also played a role in Nash landing his first-ever head coaching gig despite having no previous experience on an NBA staff.

The Hall of Famer and two-time league Most Valuable Player likely got the nod because of his long-standing relationship with Nets general manager Sean Marks and his five-year stint as a player development advisor in Golden State, where he worked closely with Brooklyn superstar Kevin Durant.

These factors allowed Nash, aged 46 and retired from playing since 2015, to “skip the line” as he so humbly put it during his introductory press conference at the team’s practice facility in Sunset Park last month.

On Tuesday, Nash revealed exactly how he came to believe he could be the leader of a franchise that has already had eight head coaches since landing in Downtown Brooklyn back in 2012.

“I think I always realized I would like or enjoy coaching,” he noted. “I think it took me a while and a directive of trying to get away from the game and have some separation from being a player and having that be my identity and purpose for so many years.

“That transition needed to take place. I also love being a dad, I have five kids so that gave me the space to do that with everything that I had. And over the last few years I realized that there was an itch forming and that I was starting to gain some interest in taking that leap at some point.”

Nash certainly leapt into a pressurized situation.

The Nets, who will likely be well over the NBA salary cap and pay an exorbitant luxury tax next season, are loaded with talent and a pair of mercurial stars who have already indicated that the team would be coached in a collaborative manner.

To his credit, Nash has already agreed with Durant and Irving in regards to their multi-pronged coaching approach.

He also admitted that his relationship with both men is blossoming.

“First of all, it’s a thrill for me to get to coach Kyrie,” Nash said. “He has an incredible skill level, like off the charts. As skilled of a player as perhaps we’ve ever seen in this league. So that excites me first of all as someone who built his career off of skill and creativity, to be able to coach someone that has done the same thing and even is elevating those skills is incredible.”

Nash was arguably the best point guard of his generation and Irving, an NBA champion with Cleveland in 2016, will likely be running the neophyte coach’s offense once the 2020-21 campaign kicks off.

But it is Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP and former league MVP, who will drive this team forward as he did in Golden State when Nash was working with him behind the scenes.

“[Kevin] was a player entering his prime, and I was a player quickly exiting my prime,” said Nash of his early on-the-court encounters with Durant. “I could share with him some of the experiences I had, and we developed a bond over the game, and that led to the Warriors situation a few years later.

“He’s just a human being that I have a lot of love for and a lot of belief in the type of person he is and character he is,” he added. “And as far as a basketball player, he’s historically unique and impact and he’s one of the all-time greats already and he’s still got a chapter to build right here.”

The Nets are hoping to become Brooklyn’s first major pro sports championship team since the 1955 Dodgers this coming season. Photo: AP

That chapter, our borough’s long-awaited title and the Nets’ first-ever NBA championship, won’t come easy, even if some prognosticators have already thrust Brooklyn into the Eastern Conference title race.

Nash shouldn’t mind that one bit since he walked through the door talking about turning Brooklyn into title town.

“We are playing for a championship and we’re going to build accordingly,” Nash said. “We’re going to frame everything we do in the lens of, ‘Is this a championship characteristic or is this worth championship quality?’

Those questions will begin to be answered in earnest on Dec. 22, the NBA’s target date for the start of the most anticipated season in Nets history.

Durant and Irving can’t wait to finally play together in Brooklyn uniforms and Nash is itching to coach them toward the franchise’s ultimate goal.

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