Nets owner Joe Tsai said he was glad Steve Nash’s hiring as Brooklyn’s coach created a discussion about “white privilege,’’ but believes the argument doesn’t hold up.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the air that “white privilege’’ was at work in the Nets’ choice of Nash, the Hall of Fame point guard, because his lone coaching experience was as a part-time skills instructor for the Warriors.
The charge created a national firestorm after the announcement on Sept. 3 — and Tsai actually loved it.
“The example [Smith] uses in this particular case is misapplied, but having that conversation is important,’’ Tsai said on a Yale University podcast posted Friday. “So I think this is a very good example of, rather than just shouting at each other, we understand white privilege is an issue and needs to be talked about. But in this case, it doesn’t apply because Steve Nash is the best person for the job. But we’re not afraid to talk about it.”
Tsai said he was proud of Nash for adeptly responding during the press conference earlier this month to the assertion he wasn’t qualified for this job, despite being one of the smartest floor generals in NBA history.
“When Steve Nash was put on the spot during the press conference, the direct question was: ‘Did you get your job because of white privilege?’ ’’ Tsai said. “What Steve said was very sensible and sensitive. ‘Yes, I’ve been the beneficiary of that, but I don’t think that’s an issue that applies in this particular case. But we need to have this conversation.’ ”
Those were Tsai’s first public remarks regarding the stunning Nash hiring that was fully endorsed by Nets superstar Kevin Durant, who is black. The firestorm included support for Nets interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who is black. Vaughn posted a 58-158 record as Magic head coach between 2012-15 and his Nets were swept in the first round of the bubble playoffs by the Raptors in August.
“Steve Nash is a two-time MVP — one of the most talented point guards that ever played basketball,’’ Tsai said. “It was an incredible get for us to be able to convince him to come in and coach our team. The problem is Steve Nash is white. In the context of social justice discussion in the nation, we came under a little bit of criticism.”
Tsai, whose Nets are expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title, wants to continue to be accessible to Nets fans in every way.
“I started a Twitter account a few years ago so I can communicate directly with our fans,’’ Tsai said. “Up to that point, I had never used Twitter. I didn’t think it was important to me. I can’t understand the idea of limiting the number of words you can post on social media. Because of the Nets, I now have a Twitter account.”
Tsai boasts 23,000 followers.
New York Post
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