By Corey Guy, Associate Sports Editor
It didn’t seem fair to a lot of NBA observers, but they should not have been surprised when Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash signed a four-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets last week to become the team’s next head coach. This will be Nash’s first stint in coaching, so he leap-frogged ahead of a lot of longtime assistants still waiting for their first head-coaching opportunity.
As the two-time MVP worked as a consultant for the Golden State Warriors since his retirement in 2015, he developed a unique relationship with another MVP, Nets star Kevin Durant. This had to be a pivotal reason why Nash got the job, over countless other coaches whose track record and credentials seem more reliable.
This move by the Nets proves something a lot of NBA spectators already knew. This era of the NBA is heavily influenced by the wants of individual players. The Nets organization would want to do anything to make Durant’s tenure in Brooklyn a successful one, including getting his close basketball adviser as head coach for the team.
This exposes the evolution of the league. This hiring seems to be the most extreme of cases in terms of, a strong player to coach relationships that could be beneficial, and having the loyalty of the team’s franchise players was all Nash needed.
Nash’s hiring distinguishes the NBA front office environment from any other sports league. Others focus a lot on the assembling of the right pieces to make the perfect team. The NBA, however, is different in that teams can create a winning environment based heavily on the satisfaction and overall morale of their franchise player.
NBA executives must find that happy medium between star player comfortability and a team’s success. So, taking a chance on a former player as a coach, despite no official coaching experience, is a unique high-risk higher reward situation that only the NBA can offer.
Nash is heading into an organization with tremendous upside despite the early exit out of this year’s playoffs by the Toronto Raptors. The organization has cultivated a talented roster with championship potential. Alongside Durant, there’s another All-Star and NBA champion in Kyrie Irving, budding talent in Caris Levert, a three-time sixth man of the year in Jamal Crawford, and even a 3-point champion in Joe Harris.
The Nets are putting themselves in the position to win immediately and it shows with this hiring of Nash. However, this move by the Nets organization might prove to be shrewd, or will the bright lights of the concrete jungle shine too bright for Nash and the Nets?