Stephen A. Smith: Steve Nash hiring is product of ‘white privilege’
Stephen A. Smith took issue with the Brooklyn Nets’ hiring of Steve Nash on Thursday and says it is the product of “white privilege.”
Smith argued on ESPN’s “First Take” that other qualified black coaches being passed over for Nash, who has no previous head coaching experience, signifies the former two-time NBA MVP is benefiting from being white.
Smith agreed that Nash is uniquely qualified and a “sensational dude”, widely respected and loved by a whole bunch of people in the NBA, and that Nash “deserves it.” But that didn’t stop Smith from bringing race into the discussion.
“There’s no way around this. This is white privilege. This does not happen as a black man. No experience whatsoever on any level as a coach, and you get the Brooklyn Nets job?” Smith said.
Smith acknowledged that Nash is a great guy and may do a fantastic job, but says he has no experience. Smith also said he recognizes Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant signed off on the hiring, which was a big factor in the Nets hiring him.
Smith mentioned Ty Lue, Mark Jackson and Sam Cassell as qualified black coaches who were passed over.
Smith’s argument is problematic for a lot of reasons. His argument presumes that only white people get head coaching opportunities with NBA teams despite no previous experience. If that’s the case, what’s his explanation for Mark Jackson getting hired by the Warriors in 2011? Smith mentions Jackson as being passed over by the Nets, but Jackson got the Warriors job with no experience. Was Jackson benefiting from white privilege? What about Derek Fisher, Jason Kidd and Isiah Thomas, who all were hired as head coaches with no previous head coaching experience? Were they benefiting from white privilege too?
Maybe the NBA has a bias towards accomplished point guards as head coaches, similar to the way catchers frequently become managers in MLB, and that race has nothing to do with it. Maybe front offices believe point guards who control and lead offenses are natural fits to become head coaches when they are done playing.
And if even Smith acknowledges that Nash is qualified, and that the Nets and their top players thought he was right for the job, then what is his issue? Should they not hire someone they want to be their head coach, regardless of the color of his skin? Or is Smith just trying to make up for the recent criticism he received?