When the Nets hired Steve Nash as their new head coach over several African-American assistants who were believed to be under consideration, including interim head coach Jacque Vaughn, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith described the hiring as an example of “white privilege.” During his introductory video conference on Wednesday, Nash addressed questions of racial equality in the current political climate.
“I have benefited from ‘white privilege,’” Nash said. “Our society has a lot of ground to make up. I’m not saying white privilege . . . [was] a factor in this position, but I think as white people, we have to understand that we are served a privilege by the benefit of the color of our skin and our communities.”
Nash noted the social initiatives undertaken by Nets owners Joe and Clara Tsai in support of Black Lives Matter and racial justice causes, including a $50 million community program, and supported their goals. “I hope that I’m a great ally to the cause that Clara and Joe Tsai have really made an incredible gesture . . . to help stem the gap in racial injustice . . . I understand why it’s important to talk about it and that we do need more diversity and more opportunity for African-American coaches and staff in all capacities . . .
“It’s interesting being such a supporter and ally of that need for equality to be put in the middle of it because it is something near and dear to my heart. But I accept it, I want to be a part of the conversation, and frankly, I want to be a part of change.”
The Nets previously announced Vaughn will be retained by Nash as lead assistant. “What he’s done for this organization, the work he’s put in, the building he’s done from a cultural and basketball standpoint, the inside knowledge here is invaluable to have some continuity,” Nash said. “I feel very fortunate that he would remain and continue what he started here because he has his fingerprints all over this.”