Steve Nash probably never thought about how much bullshit he’d have to deal with as the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach when he joined the team in 2020. After all, who wouldn’t have been excited about their first coaching destination having perennial All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the roster?
However, expectations ended up being miles away from reality, especially after how all of us NBA fans have watched the entire Nets organization implode and bend their will to the whims of Irving, who’s proven himself to be unreliable at best, and Durant, who tried to hold the franchise hostage with a trade demand last offseason at the start of a four-year max contract with no player option in it.
I’m almost willing to bet that at this point, leaving Brooklyn brings a smile to Nash’s face.
Even the best and most patient of people would have been frazzled at having to deal with the daily drama that Nash did, especially in a major media market like New York, where all eyes are always on you and waiting for you to fail. Make no mistake, the Nets’ atrocious performance over the last few seasons definitely counts as a big failure considering how much money the team’s been spending. Remember, they’re paying Simmons, Irving and Durant over $110 million this season.
Here’s a list of what the two-time MVP had to deal with during his tenure as Head Coach in Brooklyn.
- Kyrie Irving’s refusal to take the vaccine, which meant he missed half of the 2021-22 season
- Kyrie Irving’s sudden disappearance in January 2021
- Kyrie Irving’s current feud with the media, and his insistence on spreading misinformation
- Kyrie Irving being Kyrie Irving every day
- Kevin Durant’s trade demand, which was not met
- Kevin Durant’s various injuries which derailed the Nets’ progress
- James Harden coming to Brooklyn and looking like a superstar in a trade deadline deal, only to injure his hamstring which made him a shell of himself in the 2020-21 playoffs
- James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant only playing a total of 16 games together as a trio due to injuries, disappearances, and more
- James Harden apparently getting sick of Kyrie Irving’s shit and refusal to work, which led to him forcing a trade to Philadelphia
- Ben Simmons, who was supposed to be Harden’s replacement, not suiting up in 2021-22
- Ben Simmons finally coming back and averaging a triple-single of 6.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists while taking six shots a game and shooting 46.7% from the free throw line in six games before Nash’s firing
These are just the public things we know he had to deal with, too. I don’t know what the hell else Nash had to endure behind closed doors, but I’m willing to bet that most of it wasn’t pretty. Even so, Nash was classy in his departure and thanked everyone on Twitter.
However, as someone else pointed out, it’s not like Nash is ever going to be hurting for money. He made $146 million during his playing career, and made a few million more while in Brooklyn. He can take as much of a break as he needs, and he may even decide that he doesn’t want to every try to coach in the NBA again. If I were in his shoes, I’d certainly say screw it.
I’m not saying that Nash is absolved of all blame during his tenure as coach. That’s certainly not the case. He tried to bring in assistant coaches like his former boss Mike D’Antoni, and former Nets Head Coach Jacque Vaughn stayed on with the team after Nash took over and is now going to hold the interim coaching gig.
When you have talents like Durant and Irving available, plus some decent bench players like Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Patty Mills, Cameron Thomas, LaMarcus Aldridge, it’s inexcusable to only win a single playoff series. Sure, Durant came within a toe tip of beating the 2021 champion Milwaukee Bucks last year while Harden was hobbling around, but ‘almost’ isn’t going to get a coach any mercy in the NBA.
They were then embarrassed further in this year’s playoffs, where the Boston Celtics swept them and it looked at times like Nash’s gameplay was to let Irving or Durant play iso-ball, run down the shot clock, and then take whatever shot was available. These kind of results do fall under the shoulders of the Head Coach.
Nash apparently never had the respect of his two star players, and if that’s truly the case, he was always doomed from the start. It’s never good when your leading men say they don’t need you at the start of your tenure.
The Irving and Durant era has been a wild ride for everyone that isn’t a Nets fan, and it doesn’t look like the circus is going to end anytime soon. According to the Woj, another embattled coach is the likely candidate for the job.
Ime Udoka has proven himself to have great coaching acumen, but his personal baggage and the insane rumors of why he was suspended, could prove to be a further distraction for a Nets team that is filled to the brim with them. If and when it happens, we’ll take a bit of a deeper look. For now, I’d just like to congratulate Nash on finding his way out of the most stressful job in the NBA.