ESPN host Stephen A. Smith responded to news that NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash was hired as the new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets by blaming “white privilege.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way around this,” Smith said in response to news that the Brooklyn Netshired two-time league MVP Steve Nashas their new head coach. “This is white privilege. This does not happen for a black man.”
Smith acknowledged Nash “deserves” the job and that the team’s two superstars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who are black themselves, supported the hiring. He went on, however, to list the names of several potential black candidates for the job who could have been hired instead, such as Sam Cassell, Mark Jackson, and Ty Lue.
Smith continued: “The frustration, the protesting, all of these things that you see in the streets throughout America emanating from the black community and disenfranchised communities is that proverbial glass ceiling and the fact that it breeds a level of frustration that we can’t even put into words sometimes. You just want to scream. You want to scream to high heavens. How the hell does this always happen for somebody else other than us? Why is it that we have to be twice as good to get half as much? Why is it that no matter what we do and how hard we work and how we go through the process and the terrain of everything, somehow, someway, there’s another excuse to ignore that criteria, to ignore those credentials, and instead bypass it and make an exception to the rule for someone other than us?”
“I’m depressed right now because I have to bring that up,” Smith added.
Smith’s frustration was echoed by several verified Twitter accounts, including sportswriters and former players.
“It’s got to be dispiriting for so many Black assistant coaches to see this, though,” sportswriter Peter Edmiston tweeted. “Jacque Vaughn couldn’t have done more. Only 5 Black head coaches now and we’re seeing a lot of front offices seem more comfortable with candidates that look and sound like themselves.”
Jacque Vaughn, a black man and the assistant coach for the Nets who led the team to the playoffs this year after the departure of the head coach during the season, was kept on the staff and was made the highest-paid assistant in the league despite not being given the head coaching job.
“I’m sure Steve Nash will be a solid head coach, but you can’t ignore the blatant disregard for Black coaches in a league that has majority Black players! Like c’mon!!” Yahoo News reporter Marquise Francis tweeted.
“Definitely happy for Steve Nash but super disappointed in the @BrooklynNets,” former NBA player Trevor Booker tweeted. “So many well qualified African American candidates and they get looked over by someone with no experience at all. The only reason they felt comfortable doing that is bc JV stayed onboard as the top asst.”
Definitely happy for Steve Nash but super disappointed in the@BrooklynNets. So many well qualified African American candidates and they get looked over by someone with no experience at all. The only reason they felt comfortable doing that is bc JV stayed onboard as the top asst.
Some disagreed with the idea that “white privilege” was at play, including Smith’s ESPN colleague Jay Williams.
“Come on SA,” Williams, a former NBA player, said. “Steve Nash being chosen over Mark Jackson/Ty Lue is not “White Privilege”.. 2 superstar black athletes ultimately made the decision & we know who they are and what they are about.”
“Evidently forgetting all of the black former players who have gotten head coaching jobs in the NBA with limited coaching experience, Stephen A. Smith said Steve Nash got Nets job because of white privilege,”Outkickfounder Clay Travis tweeted.
“After meeting with a number of highly accomplished coaching candidates from diverse backgrounds, we knew we had a difficult decision to make,” Nets General Manager Sean Markssaid about the Nash hiring. “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 towards a common goal, will prepare us to compete at the highest levels of the league.”