Steve Nash brings a Hall of Fame resume to coaching the Brooklyn Nets this season, and the team will be led on the court by two players who are on course to join him in Springfield one day in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Nash discussed the opportunity to work with the two stars with YES Network’s Ian Eagle on Tuesday’s livestreamed Brooklyn Nets Town Hall.
In Nash and Irving, the Nets have a pairing of point guards, with Nash having led the league in assists five times while winning two MVP awards and shooting 42.8 percent from 3-point range for his career. Irving is a two-time All-NBA pick and an NBA champion who brings the same type of shooting skills and creativity to the position.
“First of all, it’s a thrill for me to get to coach Kyrie,” said Nash. “He has an incredible skill level, like off the charts. As skilled of a player as perhaps we’ve ever seen in this league. So that excites me first of all as someone who built his career off of skill and creativity, to be able to coach someone that has done the same thing and even is elevating those skills is incredible.
“I think having those common experiences, playing the position, playing in the best city in the world and the responsibility that comes with that is going to give us such a commonality, so I’m thrilled to be his coach but I’m also thrilled to get to know him even better. We have a great relationship. I’ve gotten to know him more and more as a guy who’s generous with his time, he’s brought in resources, he donated $1.5 million for WNBA players who were affected by the bubble and could go by all sorts of charitable endeavors during COVID or even pre-COVID. This is a guy that’s incredibly deep and has a good passion for helping others, so I get to coach him on the floor but also connect with him on all his passions off the floor, as well.”
Nash’s connection with Durant has been a key part of the post-playing journey that eventually brought him to Brooklyn. Current Nets assistant coach Adam Harrington played briefly with Nash in Dallas during the 2002-03 season, and was working with Durant several years ago when he brought Nash and Durant together.
“He was a player entering his prime, and I was a player quickly exiting my prime,” said Nash. “I could share with him some of the experiences I had, and we developed a bond over the game, and that led to the Warriors situation a few years later where we continued to develop our relationship, and here we are working together again. He’s just a human being that I have a lot of love for and a lot of belief in in the type of person he is and character he is. And as far as a basketball player, he’s historically unique and impact and he’s one of the all-time greats already and he’s still got a chapter to build right here.”
Nash had joined the Golden State Warriors in a player development role before the 2015-16 season, and a year later Durant left Oklahoma City for Golden State. There the two worked closely as the Warriors won two more NBA championships, with Durant earning a pair of NBA Finals MVP awards.
In conversation with Eagle on Tuesday’s livestream, Nash said the part-time role involved roughly once-a-month visits for him to “add my two cents” but that he got as much from the experience as he gave, particularly being around Golden State head coach Steve Kerr.
“He’s a world-class human being,” said Nash. “That is where it starts and ends. What comes along with that are those characteristics you talked about – connectivity, communication, character, transparency. They may not be the first thing you think of when you think of coaching. You like to skip ahead to Xs and Os and game plans and adjustments. But without those qualities, it becomes very hard to win with your game plan, your Xs and Os, your adjustments. You have to create an environment where there is great trust, there’s a great balance between being comfortable and valued and constantly striving and being tested. Steve is an incredible example of creating an environment that does all those things.”