Home Sports Steve Nash addresses ‘white privilege’ critiques of Nets hire

Steve Nash addresses ‘white privilege’ critiques of Nets hire

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Steve Nash saw the questions coming as clearly as he used to see passing lanes.

In his first appearance as Nets coach, he was fielding questions about white privilege and whether he jumped the line of qualified assistants.

And replacing black interim coach Jacque Vaughn at the helm of a star-studded contender, despite never spending a second as an assistant coach, he owned it. Despite saying he didn’t feel the notion of white privilege specifically applied in this case, he admits it’s a problem — one he wants to do his part to help fix.

“Well, I did skip the line, frankly,” Nash said. “But at the same time, leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique.”

So is being handed a contender despite not coming up the ranks.

Yes, there have been others who got immediate head coaching opportunities — Jason Kidd, Isiah Thomas, Doc Rivers, Mark Jackson and Derek Fisher, not to mention Nash’s Golden State boss Steve Kerr. Nine of the 16 hired without any experience since 1978-79 are black.

Steve Nash
Steve NashGetty Images

But in an era when the NBA is supporting “Black Lives Matter,” that doesn’t tell the whole tale.

Though blacks comprise 80 percent of the NBA, they’re just 20 percent of the head coaching ranks. And they’re essentially limited to one path — actually making it to the league as a player, rather than working through the ranks. According to ESPN earlier this year, just 10 black coaches in NBA history hadn’t played in the league first.

For Nash — who has George Floyd as his Twitter profile picture — he understood the argument wasn’t binary.

“Well, I have benefited from white privilege. Our society has a lot of ground to make up,” Nash said. “I’m not saying this position was a factor as far as white privilege … but as white people we have to understand we’re served a privilege and a benefit by the color of our skin — and we have a long way to go to find equality, and social and racial justice.

“So I hope I’m a great ally to the cause. This is something that [Nets owners] Clara and Joe Tsai have really made an incredible gesture to help within our organization but also in our communities to help stem the gap in racial injustice…. So I’m very sensitive to the cause and the goal. I’m not sure that this is an example that fits that conversation, but I own it and understand why it’s important to talk about it.”

“We do need more diversity and more opportunity for African-American coaches and staff in all capacities. This league was built through African-American players who are stars that have made this one of the greatest entertainment industries, businesses and sports in the world. So it’s really important that we continue to come together and fight. … But I accept it, I want to be a part of the conversation and frankly I want to be a part of change.”

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