Steve Nash: 'I Have Benefited from White Privilege,' Unsure Nets Job Is a Result

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2018, file photo, Steve Nash speaks during induction ceremonies at the Basketball Hall of Fame, in Springfield, Mass. Nash is about to take on an expanded role in his second year with Turner Sports.  The network announced on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, that Nash is returning to B/R Football’s UEFA Champions League broadcasts on TNT and B/R Live. He will also be a contributor to TNT’s NBA coverage when the upcoming season begins in October. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said Wednesday that he has been the beneficiary of white privilege during his life.

According to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, Nash stopped short of definitively saying that he landed the Nets head coaching job because of that privilege, however: "I have benefited from white privilege. Our society has a lot of ground to make up. ... I'm not sure this is an example that purely fits that conversation."

Nash is an eight-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA MVP, making him one of the most successful players in league history, but the Nets' decision to hire him as head coach raised some eyebrows since he has no coaching experience.

Since retiring from the NBA as a player in 2015, Nash's primary involvement in the league was as a consultant with the Golden State Warriors. In that role, he was a part of the Warriors' NBA championships in 2017 and 2018.

While Nash has long been regarded as one of the most intelligent and creative players to grace an NBA court over the past few decades, some observers have wondered if he would be getting the same opportunity if he were Black.

Jacque Vaughn served as the Nets' head coach in an interim capacity this season following the firing of Kenny Atkinson. In 10 regular-season games, including eight in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida. Vaughn led the Nets to a 7-3 record, which was an improvement on the 28-34 record they had when he took over.

Most impressively, Vaughn enjoyed that success with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both out injured. He was also without Spencer Dinwiddie for the NBA restart.

The Nets were swept by the second-seeded Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, but Brooklyn's performance in Orlando was impressive nonetheless given how shorthanded they were.

Vaughn did have one previous head coaching opportunity and it didn't go well, as he was 58-158 with no playoff appearances in parts of three seasons with the Orlando Magic.

Nash is more of a blank slate, and it can be argued that his status as a former NBA star player was attractive to the Nets since he will be tasked with managing a pair of stars in Durant and Irving.

It is possible that Nash will turn out to be the best man for the job, but with so many qualified candidates getting passed over in favor of him, it is fair to question what went into the decision.