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Nets Notes: Steve Nash Gets a Game Ball

Brooklyn won Nash's coaching debut, 125-99 against Golden State

It’s been a while, but Steve Nash had a game on Tuesday night.

Preseason tune-ups aside, this was the first real game for Nash in six years, since he concluded his 18-year NBA career at the age of 40. For decades up to that point, the rhythms of a season were a defining routine.

Nash built a Hall of Fame career that upended expectations for more than two decades, starting with the way he turned a single scholarship offer from Santa Clara University into a college career that made him a first-round draft pick in 1996. He was 30 years old and in his ninth NBA season when he won the first of back-to-back MVPs on the way to retiring with the third-most assists in NBA history.

Now, after taking a step back while staying involved in the game as GM of Team Canada or as a player development consultant with the Golden State Warriors, he was back in the fire for his first game as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

“It is similar. Different, but similar,” said Nash of the comparison to his playing days. “Different rhythm, but similar nerves and anxiety to what I had as a player. I always felt a little nerves until I actually got out there in pregame warmups. So I feel that a little bit tonight, and that’s probably a good thing. But to be out there competing, and watching our guys play and trying to help them elevate to their best level is a lot of fun. It’s time. We need to get out there and test ourselves.”

Nash’s first test went quite well. His high-powered Nets blitzed visiting Golden State from the start in a 125-99 final that made Nash a winner in his debut.

Afterwards, in the Brooklyn locker room, guard Kyrie Irving declared the “start of something new” and that “I’ll go to war with you any day,” while handing Nash the game ball.

With Irving and Kevin Durant, Nash has taken over a team built to win big, and he’s embraced championship expectations from the start.

“I know what we’re playing for and I know that we have high expectations,” said Nash before his debut. “No one’s expectations are higher than ours in our group and our facility. But it’s a journey. We’re not winning anything tonight, other than one game if we’re fortunate enough to do so. So this is the process that we have to continue to learn every day and continue to get better. So yes, we embrace the pressure because if you can’t embrace the pressure you can’t play under pressure and you’re not a championship-caliber team. That’s the process that we also have to embrace along with defining all the things we do strategically on the court is about that result that ability to face adversity, to be down, to stay together, to fight when you don’t have it some nights and to learn how to win ugly.”

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