“It’s a unique opportunity with an incredible roster and incredible family here with the Nets and Sean (Marks’) leadership. Joe & Clara (Tsai) support the vision for this community and franchise, and there’s a family feel here that makes it exciting to walk in here. We’re at an incredible point in time for this organization.”
Those are the words of new Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash, speaking in his introductory press conference that was aired on YES Wednesday afternoon. Nash was scheduled to be a guest on WFAN’s Joe & Evan show at 4 p.m. Wednesday, where he will likely go more in-depth on many items, but during his intro, he noted that even though his candidacy for his new job didn’t come in earnest until this summer, it’s something he’s been building towards this entire century.
“This has been a 20-year relationship with Sean (Marks, the Nets’ GM), but as far as this process, I reached out to Sean this summer and asked if this was the right time to throw my name in the hat,” Nash said. “It did come together rather quickly in real time, but this is a conversation that has been going on for a long, long time. (Coaching) had been in my mind so to speak for a long time, and it funneled into this opportunity more recently. It was just something that came from a lot of thought; I felt like I had a lot to offer, and this was a unique opportunity that fit my skill set.”
It certainly came out of nowhere to most, as Nash was never talked about as a candidate for the Nets’ gig – or any coaching spot, for that matter – in earnest until he got the job.
“I did skip the line, so to speak, but at the same time, leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique. While I haven’t learned all the skills of coaching, I was never far from that,” Nash said. “To be the head of a team on the floor, think on the fly, and bring people together…it’s not like I was in a factory. I learned a tremendous amount in my career, and there’s a precedent in the past for people to get this opportunity. It’s a unique situation, but there are some experiences I have some others won’t because of the type of career I had.”
“Steve is a little different. You look at the career path he had – I was very fortunate to be a teammate and have an up close and personal relationship with Steve – but the leadership he had on and off the court, he was a culture driver when I was with the Suns,” Marks added about the thought process. “We’ve picked each other’s brains for the good part of 10 or 12 years on what does life after basketball look like, and we’ve helped each other a lot. It came very naturally this summer when we first had our conversation, and look – there’s no one I’ve been around that has wanted to be pressure-tested on the spot quite like Steve. This guy has never run from anything, and his career speaks for itself that he made the right decision more times than not.”
Some of that experience Nash brings with him is an eight-year stint as the general manager of the Canadian National Team, where he learned the ins and outs of the structural side of things.
“That was a great experience in collaborating, planning, and all the structural pieces that go into it. I learned a lot from Jay Triano, who was my coach there, about all aspects of the game,” Nash said. “I love to compete, to teach, to lead, and be part of a team, so to be in a position where I can be in that position on a day to day basis and focus my attention on all of those aspects, it’s the perfect role for me. I always thought, ‘when I can’t run up and down the court anymore, where can I contribute?’”
And, of course, his tenure as a consultant in Golden State is huge, especially when you remember that he got work first-hand with another former point guard turned head coach with no experience: Steve Kerr.
“To have a close relationship with Steve and see him winning up close gave me an insight that was invaluable,” Nash said. “He taught me a lot with his words, his actions, and his leadership. Getting to see a lot of that up close, I’m grateful, and hopefully can lean on that as we go forward.”
That all said, too, he realizes that in skipping the line, so to speak, he has to acknowledge that he doesn’t know everything, and that’s why he’s happy to have former interim Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn remaining on his staff as the lead assistant.
“I definitely realize that I will need support, and a collaborative staff that has a lot of experience and is willing to build this with me. It doesn’t begin and end with me,” Nash said. “I think Jacque’s qualities speak for themselves. He’s a high-character individual, extremely hard-working and prepared, and what he’s done for this organization – the building he’s done from a cultural and basketball standpoint – is incredible. The inside knowledge he brings is invaluable, and I couldn’t think of a better person to be here. I feel very fortunate that he wants to remain here and be a part of it.”
And all told, there’s only one Steve Nash, but that Steve Nash as head coach will be an amalgam of all he’s learned along the way.
“I don’t know that I want to share all the advice I’ve gotten, but I’ve been influenced by everyone I’ve played for. The lessons you learn and tendencies you pick up when you spend so much time with someone, it rubs off,” he said. “It’s about how you handle pressure, and embrace those moments and thrive in them. I’m fortunate to walk into an organization that has incredible foundations, chemistry, culture, and a basketball-wealthy roster, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”