Brooklyn Nets All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will have a new head coach for the coming season, as the team has signed Hall of Fame point guard Steve Nash to a four-year deal. It was an unexpected move, but the Nets are happy to have their man.
The Nets may have landed their target, but how will Nash get along with Irving and Durant? Both players dealt with injuries this season. Irving played just 20 games, while Durant missed the entire season due to recovery. Both, however, are expected to be back for the 2020-21 campaign.
One aspect playing into Nash’s favor is the fact that he already has relationships with Durant and Irving. After retiring in 2014, Steve spent five seasons as a player development coach with the Warriors, where he contributed to two championship teams (2017 and 2018) and made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.
Durant and Nash developed a special bond over these years:
Steve Nash and Kevin Durant developed a real, human relationship during Durant's time in Golden State, including during offseason workouts. Steve talked to me about KD for this story in 2018: https://t.co/jRGnSrlmAi https://t.co/IFDZPcdEQL
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 3, 2020
“We both love the game of basketball. We got a bond, over me in a sense being a teacher and a pupil through the years,” Nash said. “It dates back to when I was finishing my career and we would work out together, and working with him with the Warriors. … I think that there is a trust, a commonality and a language between us when it comes to the game that has developed over time. That definitely is important. He’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen and to have his confidence is really important.”
Nash also has a history with Irving. While Kyrie has become a rather polarizing figure these days, Nash is looking forward to the opportunity to coach him up:
“Ky and I have history, not only being two point guards, but he is one of my favorite players to watch,” Nash said. “He and I spent a couple days in the gym, I believe it was 2015, in New York City working out. There is a respect and admiration there for me. For me and Ky, our relationship is important. He is the point guard and I’m the coach, and I’m thrilled I get the opportunity to know him better and to understand him, how he plays and what he sees and be here to help him refine his gifts.”
During Nash’s annual NYC celebrity soccer event in 2014, #ShowdownNY, Kyrie stopped by for a visit. And in 2016, Kevin Durant decided to make an appearance:
Steve Nash hosted his annual celebrity soccer event in NYC ahead of the NBA Draft, which attracted players over the years. Who showed up in 2014? Kyrie Irving. Who showed up in 2016? Kevin Durant.
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) September 3, 2020
So, clearly, there’s plenty of history here with these stars, and it likely played a role in Nash getting hired.
An eight-time NBA All-Star and two-time MVP, Nash’s NBA resume speaks for itself, and that’s something players often respect. He’s a driven individual — one who takes preparation to the nth degree. This sort of work ethic can rub off on others, and it could be exactly what the Nets need as Irving and Durant make their returns.
On the court, Nash was a fierce competitor, yet he managed to his composure in most cases. Now, though, he’ll need to keep that same level of self-control on the sidelines, knowing that he can’t physically help his team. He knows basketball like the back of his hand, so coaching should should come relatively easy.
Brooklyn finished the 2019-20 season with a 35-37 overall record, which earned the team a No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Unfortunately, though, the Nets were swept by the Toronto Raptors in the opening round.
Let’s see how Nash gets on in this unexpected venture. With a pair of All-Stars coming back into the fold, the Nets will likely be viewed as a favorite in the East for the coming season. One of Nash’s biggest challenges will be managing the big personalities of Durant and Irving, but the established relationships suggest he should be well-suited for the task.