Jordi Fernandez, the Brooklyn Nets' new head coach, is introduced...

Jordi Fernandez, the Brooklyn Nets' new head coach, is introduced during a news conference on April 24, 2024. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Jordi Fernandez started his coaching journey at 15 years old working for basketball teams in Spain. By his own admission, he wasn’t a great player but he loved the sport and loved coaching as a way to stay around it.

Over 25 years later, that journey brought Fernandez to the Nets practice facility Wednesday, where he was introduced as their next head coach. At 41, he’s the NBA’s fifth youngest coach in the league and the first Spaniard.

After spending the last two seasons as associate head coach with the Kings, Fernandez takes over a team that needs to be rebuilt in similar fashion. The Kings are coming off their first consecutive winning seasons since 2004-06.

The Nets, meanwhile had 50 losses last season, their most since 2018. Fernandez promised results would come "right away" but later added it's about the process as much as getting wins.

“Winning is extremely important,” Fernandez said. “But the way we want to do it, we want to sustain success and we want to do it in the long run. That’s what I believe, this is what everybody in the organization should be a part of.”

Fernandez said he’s been in touch with every player and both Cam Johnson and Dariq Whitehead stood to the side while Fernandez spoke. Johnson and Fernandez also briefly greeted either other after the introduction.

Fernandez added the Nets’ young roster was something that attracted him when he interviewed with general manager Sean Marks and owner Joe Tsai.

“It's a really exciting team, a team that has the ability to play fast in the full court, half court,” he said. “The youth is always great, right, because that allows you to have a team for the long run. That's what excites me the most, and to make players better.”

Fernandez also spoke of wanting the Nets to be connected and selfless. While the Nets had strong player chemistry, the lack of connectivity was evident with confusion and miscommunication on both ends, especially on defense.

He also wants the Nets to aim for being a top-10 offense and defense next season, a lofty goal after being bottom-10 in several offensive categories last season.

For Marks, hiring Fernandez was about a coach who’ll hold players accountable while also being able to relate to them as well as teach them.

“I think something that separates Jordi from a lot of the candidates that we found that he could look at a developmental roster,” Marks said. “He could do various different pathways. I mean, he's coached stars before, he's been the head of director of development before. He's worn many hats and I think there's no roster that he's not going to be able to get the respect of those guys.”

Fernandez has a busy summer ahead with not just getting to know the Nets but also coaching the Canadian men’s basketball team at this summer’s Olympics in Paris. He thanks Marks and Tsai for allowing him to do both and said he’ll spend six weeks with Team Canada sandwiched between getting organized in Brooklyn and planning for his first training camp.

It’s another critical task besides trying to lift the Nets back into playoff contention. But it’s one Fernandez has prepared for since his teenage days coaching in Spain. After stints on the Kings and Nuggets’ bench, he understands what’s before him and how patience matters as much as progress.

"It's going to take time, it's going to take direction and structure,” he said. “But I believe with the team we have, in the partnership that we have right now, no doubt in my mind that we will start the right way.”

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