Steve Nash’s New Predicament
Ever since racial inequality has been getting global attention, one area that’s been scrutinized in racial inequality in job hiring. However, it’s recently reared its ugly head in the NBA, but I feel that the allegations are unfounded. Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash was officially unveiled today as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, though the news came out several days ago. And as soon as it came out, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith talked about how it was unfair to black coaches that a white man without any prior coaching experience could get the job, alleging some sort of racial bias. I’d like to take some time and explain why this isn’t the case.
First, I’d like to address the fact that Steve Nash has no prior coaching experience: it’s absolutely true. Steve Nash has never coached a team, but neither did a number of former players-turned-head coaches like Derek Fisher and Magic Johnson, just to name a couple people. Now, what do these three men have in common? They were all point guards. And good ones. Point guards are well known as floor generals: they dictate the way the game goes on the court, so they typically have a better understanding of how to lead a team than players at other positions.
Second, I’d like to point out that the two examples I gave, Derek Fisher and Magic Johnson, are both black men. At this point, I feel it’s appropriate to say that Smith’s argument of racial bias and white privilege is somewhat unfounded. Sure, you can make the argument, but you’ll be confronted with examples where that wasn’t the case.
My point is this: the color of your skin does not dictate whether you can coach a basketball team more effectively or not. Also, experience, or lack thereof doesn’t dictate that ability either. Steve Kerr never had a coaching job before winning three championships with the Golden State Warriors.
It remains to be seen whether Steve Nash actually makes a good head coach in the NBA or not, but the color of his skin correlated with his inexperience should not be a critique of why he got the job. Based on the many hirings of former players, we know he was chosen because of his pedigree as a leader during his playing days. That’s why Kerr got his job, that’s why Fisher got his job and that’s why Magic Johnson got his job. The argument that it solely has to do with the color of his skin is frankly hurtful and diminishes the pedigree of a Hall of Famer.