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Trae Young Responds to Steve Nash's Viral 'That's Not Basketball' Comments

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIIJanuary 20, 2021

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young dribbles during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)
Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young responded to Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash's criticism of his technique from the teams' game last month, suggesting that he look in the mirror. 

Young said he models his play after Nash, and thought that the head coach would have a different reaction if he was playing for the Nets rather than the Hawks, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

"I saw that it blew up and everyone was talking about it. I bet if I was playing for Steve, he'd be happy. It's something in the midst of competition that he was wanting to win, and I was wanting to win, and I'm gonna do whatever it takes. I think him wanting to get in the refs' ears a little bit was just trying to help him. I learned a lot about drawing fouls from him. If he says it's not basketball, he must've been saying it about himself because he's done it a couple of times throughout his career and was so successful." 

Young was digging for fouls against the Nets on Dec. 30, a strategy that didn't completely work as the Hawks fell, 145-141. Along the way, Young collected 30 points to co-lead the Hawks, and he hit 14 of his 16 free throw attempts en route to the disappointing result.

Nash was caught on video complaining to the referees about Young's action, which is legal, saying "That's not basketball!" But after Nash had calmed down, he was more willing to praise the 22-year-old, who is in his third year in the league.

"He took a big jump from last year to this year at drawing contact and recognizing situations where he can draw contact to deceive the opponent," Nash said. "It's impressive, and he's done really well. He's getting to the line at a league-leading rate. I'm impressed, and I think it's a real skill he's developed."

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Though Nash was able to recognize the technique behind Young's play, he apparently isn't the only coach who is questioning the tactic. New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau also raised his eyebrows at the move, via Kirschner. 

Whether or not opposing coaches approve, Young's aggressiveness is working. He is shooting 88.9 percent from the line and ranks second to Giannis Antetokounmpo in attempted free throws per game.