Thursday morning brought with it the stunning news that the Brooklyn Nets had hired eight-time All-Star and Hall-of-Fame point guard Steve Nash as their head coach, a complete surprise considering the names that had been tied to their coaching search over the past few weeks.
Nash was never mentioned.
Regardless, there is some history between the Canadian legend and the Nets that make the hire even more interesting, mostly from his time with the Golden State Warriors.
Nash was a part-time consultant with the Warriors dating back to 2015. During that time, Nash was often seen coaching Kevin Durant, who will now be his most important player in Brooklyn.
Nash would work out with Durant even before his time with Golden State, however, as evidenced by this Instagram post from 2014 via Nash’s personal page:
Nash has also discussed Durant publicly in the past, including in this piece by the New York Times from October of 2017:
“Instead of looking at the huge, obvious differences between us, I think there are a lot of similarities in our games,” Nash, an eight-time All-Star, said of Durant. “There’s a lot I can share with him even though it might look to you like an unlikely pairing. He handles the ball in the pick and roll, he’s a terrific passer, he’s so good at attacking with the ball. “If I can teach him some of the things I did to create space and get shots off and make my teammates better at 6-2, it can only help him at his height.”
Nash will have even more time to teach Durant now in Brooklyn. And Durant – who has previously referred to Nash as his “Yoda” – will almost certainly be more than open to whatever advice or lesson Nash tries to share with him.
Of course, Durant isn’t the only big personality Nash will have to deal with on the Nets. There’s also the mercurial Kyrie Irving, the team’s point guard, who he’ll need to convince.
There isn’t anywhere near as much history between Irving and Nash, though Irving did go out of his way to congratulate Nash at his Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony in 2018:
Kyrie Irving congratulates Steve Nash. pic.twitter.com/Dv9wP0mWiy
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) September 7, 2018
Further back in 2015, during an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, Nash called Irving one of the Top 4 point guards in the NBA on a list that also included Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook:
Who are your top 3 Pgs in the NBA, Steve? Steve Nash: “Too hard! There’ve gotta be four — Chris Paul, Westbrook, Kyrie, and Steph.”
Outside of that, it’ll be a pretty blank slate for Irving and Nash, which will make their dynamic very interesting to monitor.
As far as Nash’s history with the actual Nets franchise, Brooklyn was one of the ball-handling maestro’s main suitors in free agency back in 2012 towards the end of his playing days. He even took a meeting with the team before ultimately choosing to join the Los Angeles Lakers:
Nash was also asked about the possibility of playing in Brooklyn for the Nets, which would largely hinge on whether Deron Williams decides to leave the team as a free agent. “Sure, another exciting opportunity,” he said. “Brand new stadium, a very passionate and resourceful owner, so it’s another exciting opportunity. I have friends in Brooklyn. I’ve been over there a lot. Brooklyn’s great. Brooklyn’s beautiful. I think a lot of guys are going to find out about Brooklyn.”
Ultimately, it didn’t work out back then for Nash and the Nets, but now Brooklyn has their guy. And it’ll be fascinating to see how the legendary floor general’s first stint as a head coach goes, particularly with stakes this high.