Victoria’s Steve Nash eager to get started on new career as Nets coach

Victoria's Steve Nash eager to get started on new career as Nets coach
Brooklyn Nets / Twitter
Steve Nash was officially introduced as the Brooklyn Nets next head coach on Wednesday and the Victoria native says he's eager to get started.

Vancouver Island and the west coast basketball community are all too familiar with the Canadian sports icon, Steve Nash.

When it came to his NBA playing days, Nash was a leader – a guy who loved to get the best out of his teammates on the court and build relationships with them off it.

It was qualities like his leadership that ultimately led the Victoria native to two league MVP awards, the Basketball Hall of Fame, and now, ultimately, his first NBA head coaching job.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Nash outlined that he believes these qualities will help lead to success as a coach.

Nash was introduced Wednesday by the Brooklyn Nets, who picked him to guide superstars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the rest of a team with high expectations despite him having no coaching experience.

“I love to compete. I love to teach, to lead and to be a part of a team. And so to be in a position where I can use all those things on a day-to-day basis and focus all my energy on those tenants is a perfect fit,” Nash said.

“So while I hadn’t necessarily publicly stated my desire to coach, privately it’s always been in my mind, it’s always been an opportunity that suited me. When you can’t run up and down the court anymore, what can you do? What can you contribute?”

The Nets believe there is plenty.

General manager Sean Marks has a previous history with Nash, having played with the All-Star during his Phoenix days – a time when Nash sparked the Suns into an exciting era of high-scoring basketball.

As a result, Marks says he is very aware of Nash’s fearlessness and how that can galvanize an organization.

“Look, there’s nobody that I’ve been around that hasn’t wanted to be pressure tested on the spot quite like Steve. He’s never shied away from a moment,” Marks said.

“This guy has never run from anything and he wants the ball in his hands at the end of games and his career spoke for itself. He made the right decision more times than not, so the experience that he’ll bring here speaks volumes.”

The Brooklyn Nets fired former head coach, Kenny Atkinson, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling league play. With the search for their next permanent fixture at the position underway this summer, Nash reached out and asked Marks if this was the time for him to pursue it, according to the duo. Marks believed it was, citing Nash’s ability to connect people and drive a culture.

Nash, having played against Durant and Irving and becoming friends with both, says he is eager to impart his smarts on a roster that has plenty of skills.

“They’re obviously at an incredible point in the history of this organization, so I think the timing is fantastic, the opportunity is fantastic,” Nash said.

The hiring was a surprise, with Nash apparently not telling many of his friends within the league of his interest in coaching.

It has resulted in some criticism from the basketball community that he got a coveted opportunity at the top without having to work his way up from the bottom.

“Well, I did skip the line, frankly, but at the same time I think leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique,” Steve Nash said during a press conference. “So while I haven’t necessarily learned some of the skills that I’ll definitely seek to understand and learn as far as the technical aspects of coaching, I was never far from that.”

Nash had worked only as a player development consultant with Golden State, but Marks wasn’t looking for coaching experience. The attributes he sees in Nash go far beyond X’s and O’s.

“His winning past, the way he’s played the game, his family values, and just the curious and creative mind that he has brought to the game over a 20-year career,” Marks said, “and also maybe more importantly than anything the joy with which he played the game and the joy with which he led his teams and his teams played were deciding factors in making Steve Nash the right choice for the Brooklyn Nets.”

Brooklyn reached the playoffs even while Irving played only 20 games and Durant missed the entire season while they recovered from injuries. With them back and a number of players growing from the experience they got playing without them, Nash couldn’t ask for many better places to start a new career.

“I think the chemistry and culture has been well lauded. We have a roster that is very wealthy, and I mean that from a basketball standpoint,” Nash said. “We have talent, versatility and good human beings. So as a coach there’s so much to be thankful for when you walk in the doors here. I just can’t wait to get started.”

With local legend Steve Nash now at the helm, it might be safe to say that Vancouver Island may just see a rise in Brooklyn Nets fans next season.

With files to Canadian Press.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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