The Brooklyn Nets are preparing for their most high-stakes season since the team moved from New Jersey, as superstar Kevin Durant will return for the 2020-21 campaign alongside Kyrie Irving – and the organization stunned the basketball world this week by naming two-time league MVP Steve Nash as the team’s new head coach.

Nash wasn’t on anyone’s radar as a potential coaching candidate, as he has no previous coaching experience, and hadn’t publicly expressed his desire to become a head coach. The Nets interviewed interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who led the Nets to surprisingly solid results in the bubble, but passed on Vaughn once the team convinced Nash to take the job. Vaughn will remain with the Nets as an assistant under Nash.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on Thursday that white privilege played a role in the Nets’ decision to hire Nash, arguing that no Black coach has been given a head coaching job with zero experience. Derek Fisher soon began trending on Twitter, as some users pointed out that Fisher, along with other coaches such as Doc Rivers and Jason Kidd, landed head coaching gigs with zero experience. Charles Barkley pointed out all three examples on Inside The NBA, and said he was “very disappointed” by the claim white privilege played a role in Nash’s hiring.

On Friday, Smith doubled down on his stance.

“I mentioned white privilege yesterday. I have a message to those who feel that I was wrong, that I need to apologize, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, etcetera, etcetera. I don’t give a damn what y’all feel. Y’all can all kick rocks. I don’t give a damn. I’m not budging from my position one inch.”

Smith clarified that while Black coaches with no experience have landed jobs before, he argues that Nash’s situation is unique, as he’s inheriting a team with two superstar players and clear title aspirations, a job Smith says would not be given to a Black coach. Smith also said that he does not blame Nets GM Sean Marks or Nash for making the move, but that it’s simply the latest example of a systemic issue.

“My point about white privilege, tell me the Black man that would happen for? No resume whatsoever as a coach, at all. And you get a job of this magnitude. I’m not talking about Derek Fisher, with the sorry New York Knicks at the time. I’m not talking about Jason Kidd, his first era when they were building the Brooklyn Nets squad, I’m not talking about Doc Rivers in Orlando. I’m not talking about those opportunities.

I’m talking about championship ready, and it would be a shock if you don’t win 50 games and you’re not contending for a crown. Black folks with no resume getting a job like that? I have been covering the NBA for 25 years…. brothers do not get those opportunities.”

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