By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
AS a player, Steve Nash built himself a Hall-of-Fame career, punctuated by two National Basketball Association (NBA) most valuable player awards. It is the same success he wants to achieve as he begins a new basketball journey — this time as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.
On Wednesday (Manila time), the eight-time All-Star got his NBA head-coaching career going, making him one of four coaches to make their debut in the 2020-21 season of The Association.
Mr. Nash, 46, joins Nate Bjorkgren of the Indiana Pacers, Mark Daigneault of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Stephen Silas of the Houston Rockets in the ranks of first-time NBA head coaches.
The former Phoenix and Dallas player, who served as a consultant for the Golden State Warriors after his playing career, took over from Jacque Vaughn, who served as interim coach when the Nets played in the NBA “bubble” tournament early this year.
With Brooklyn, Mr. Nash will be spearheading a crew led by NBA All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Being a new coach, Mr. Nash admitted that he has his work cut out for him but expressed readiness to take on the challenge and excited to make it happen.
“I love our team, I love our roster. I can coach these guys and try to build something incredibly competitive,” Mr. Nash was quoted by Reuters as saying in the lead-up to his first head coaching season.
He is the ninth former NBA MVP to serve as an NBA head coach, joining Larry Bird, Bob Cousy, Dave Cowens, Magic Johnson, Bob Pettit, Willis Reed, Bill Russell, and Wes Unseld.
Mr. Nash and the Nets had a winning season debut, routing the Golden State Warriors, 125-99.
Messrs. Irving and Durant top-scored for the team, finishing with 26 and 22 points, respectively.
Brooklyn dominated the contest from start to finish, leading by as much as 38 points at one point.
Caris LeVert added 20 points as the Nets shot 45.7% and ended a seven-game losing streak in season-openers.
OTHER NEWBIE NBA HEAD COACHES
Meanwhile, Indiana’s Bjorkgren is a former NBA G League coach, where he compiled a 126-74 record (.630) with four different franchises across four years. He was an assistant with Toronto and Phoenix and a member of the coaching staff of the Raptors championship team in 2018-19.
He makes his debut on Thursday versus the New York Knicks.
Another NBA G League coach is Mr. Daigneault, who was promoted to the top coaching post after being an assistant with the Thunder last season. He joined the organization in 2014 as the head coach of the team’s G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue, where he amassed a 143-107 record (.572) in five seasons and made four playoff appearances.
Oklahoma City gets its NBA season going against the Houston Rockets also on Thursday.
Mr. Silas, for his part, is a 19-year NBA assistant coach, the most recent with Dallas last season. He is the son of former long-time NBA coach Paul Silas. He was a former player at Brown University and spent three years as the assistant executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association. — with Reuters