Steve Nash had not run a single apply as a head coach when he discovered that the job of managing superstars could be more durable than it appears. Kyrie Irving was on Kevin Durant’s podcast within the fall when he talked about constructing a relationship with Nash, and rising the Brooklyn Nets round a collaborative spirit.
Even in these pre-James Harden days, it was clear Irving thought Nash can be a greater match with Brooklyn’s box-office roster than his fired predecessor, Kenny Atkinson. Once Irving obtained to know the rookie coach, the purpose guard mentioned, “You understand why he can coexist with us. Because we don’t need somebody to come in and put their coaching philosophy on everything that we’re doing and change up the wheel.”
Irving’s ideas had been hopeful, and pretty benign, at the very least till he mentioned the phrases that launched a thousand talk-radio and talk-TV conversations on a gradual information day. “I don’t really see us having a head coach,” Irving mentioned. “You know what I mean? KD could be a head coach. I could be a head coach.”
You understand how that went down. Given loads of time to course of his reply when lastly requested, Nash reminded everybody how lucky he was to coach two nice abilities, and maintained he had no downside with the headlines regardless of the very fact he thought Irving’s remark “wasn’t meant the way it was taken by the press,” and subsequently “doesn’t bother me at all.” He went on to predict that it could “be a blast” to coach the Nets this 12 months.
It was Nash’s first right prediction, not his final. When addressing the potential for fan misbehavior in Boston, Irving’s former base of operations, the Nets’ coach acknowledged with conviction — and with a figuring out smile — that his man can be comfy and productive in that hostile atmosphere. “There is a line,” Nash mentioned of crowd conduct, “but crossed or not, Ky can handle that.”
Yes, it took Irving all of Game 3 to get his legs and thoughts proper because the followers profanely jeered him. But the explosive efficiency in Game 4 that silenced the gang, and compelled one fan to get himself charged with assault and battery for throwing a water bottle that almost hit the Brooklyn star within the head, superior the notion that Nash is in near-perfect sync along with his staff.
Listen, they name the NBA a gamers’ league for a cause — the staff with the very best gamers nearly all the time wins a best-of-seven collection. Nobody did a greater regular-season job than Tom Thibodeau, and but his team is down 3-1 to the Hawks as a result of Atlanta has Trae Young and the Knicks don’t.
So after they’re performed with the Celtics, regardless of the Nets do in opposition to Milwaukee and past can be decided by the play of their Big 3 — Durant, Harden, and Irving. No coach is as vital because the expertise, not even a coach who is a Hall of Famer and a former two-time MVP.
But Nash has been crucial to the Nets’ success with a disarming, user-friendly fashion that permits veteran superstars a voice in the way in which issues are run, a voice they’ve earned by means of achievement. Take the tip of Game 4. Nash gambled massive by leaving his greatest gamers on the ground after the end result was now not in affordable doubt. Had a member of the holy hoops trinity gone down with an harm, Nash would have been destroyed on social and conventional media.
Asked why he saved the Big 3 within the recreation, the Nets’ coach cited the sloppy endgame play, the pickup in Boston’s scoring and his worry of a miracle Celtics rally. “And then also those guys didn’t want to come out,” Nash mentioned. “So just let them go a few more minutes.”
Again, the top coach didn’t take out his gamers as a result of they suggested in opposition to it — not precisely a web page ripped from the Vince Lombardi playbook. “We’re always looking to collaborate,” Nash had mentioned within the early hours of the season. “We definitely do confer with the players constantly.”
That approach is likely to be disastrous with a younger staff. With Brooklyn, it makes all of the sense on this planet. Nash understands star gamers, as a result of he was one himself. He empowers those that have earned the duty, and as quickly as Irving figured that out in December, he mentioned, “I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of a head coach back a few months ago.”
Steve Nash didn’t use the ability of his workplace to drive Irving, or anybody else, to change his public tackle whether or not the Nets had an actual head coach. He did it with calm, inclusive management and by making it clear that he had no self-absorbed want to flip the Big 3 right into a Big 4.