Since the 2011-12 season, the Brooklyn Nets have had eight different head coaches. And three of them used to be point guards for the Dallas Mavericks.
Steve Nash became the third ex-Mavs floor general to lead the Nets since 2012 when he signed a four-year contract on Thursday. The announcement was a stunner in NBA circles since Nash has no previous head coaching experience.
However, Nash is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and an eight-time All-Star who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018.
“The coaching itch was always there,” Nash said in a statement. “I kind of kept it to myself to give me the freedom of not being on the radar of coaching expectancy. I’ve always known in the back of my mind that I’d love to do it.”
Former Mavs point guard Avery Johnson coached the Nets to a 50-116 record from 2010-12, and ex-Mavs point guard Jason Kidd coached the Nets to a 44-38 ledger and reached the second round of the playoffs during the 2013-14 season.
Nash, 46, was a consultant with Golden State when the Warriors won NBA titles in 2017 and 2018. It was there when he struck up a friendship and close working relationship with then-Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who now plays for the Nets.
The personable Nash, who has a very high basketball IQ, averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists during his 19-year career (1996-2015). The 6-3 point guard joined the Mavs on June 24, 1998 in a trade with the Phoenix Suns for Bubba Wells, Martin Muursepp, the draft rights to Pat Garrity and a first-round draft pick that turned into Shawn Marion.
A two-time All-Star with the Mavs, Nash played in Dallas from 1998 until he re-joined the Suns via free agency following the 2003-04 season. His career then soared to new heights as he was named the NBA’s MVP in 2005 and 2006.
Along with All-Stars Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, Nash was part of the renaissance that turned the Mavs into one of the top franchises in the NBA.
Nets general manager Sean Mark and owner Joe Tsai pursued Nash, believing he is the right man for the job. Marks also was a teammate of Nash’s in Phoenix from 2006-08.
Marks is banking on Nash doing what Steve Kerr (Golden State), Tyronn Lue (Cleveland) Nick Nurse (Toronto) were able to accomplish. The aforementioned three men — in their first season as an NBA head coach — led their team to an NBA championship.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Marks said in a statement released by the Nets. “In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players.
“I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years. One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed firsthand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success. His instincts for the game, combined with an inherent ability to communicate with and unite players toward a common goal will prepare us to compete at the highest levels.”
A three-time first-team All-NBA selection, Nash led the league in assists five times.
Said Nash: “Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn. I am as excited about the prospects of the team on the court as I am about moving to Brooklyn with my family and becoming impactful members of this community.”