The Brooklyn Nets named Steve Nash their head coach in early September, but stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant see Nash in more of a collaborative role and not as the head of top-down leadership.
“I don’t really see us having a head coach,” Irving said on Durant’s new podcast, “The Etcs.” “KD could be a head coach, I could be a head coach [some days].”
Durant followed up by agreeing with Irving, calling it a “collaborative effort” and naming assistant and former interim head coach Jacque Vaughn as someone who could fill the role any given day.
Nash, who was a shock hire by the Nets, said when he was named coach that he was especially excited to work with Irving, calling the star point guard a “savant with the basketball.” Irving, though, said on the podcast that he doesn’t know Nash that well but is looking forward to working with him.
“Steve is great, and I have a relationship with him that’s going to build over time, bro,” Irving said. “Steve don’t know me from anything he heard or he’s heard someone else. We’ve worked out one time in 2014, but it’s grown as just a respectful relationship from afar. I saw him at the Hall of Fame two years ago, gave him a big hug and now he’s the head coach. And I think it’s also going to change the way we see coaches.
“I want somebody that’s gonna understand that I am a human being first, I serve my community first, and then basketball is something I do every day because I love,” Irving said. “We always heard and saw how great Nash was as a player, but also when you get to know him as a person, you understand why he can coexist with us. We don’t need someone to come in with their coaching philosophy and change everything we’re doing.”
Durant has a strong relationship with Nash, forged during his time with the Golden State Warriors, where Nash was a player development coach.
“I think having Steve there and collaborating with our floor general every day is only gonna yield good results for our scorers like myself and Taurean [Prince], Caris [LaVert] and Spencer [Dinwiddie],” Durant said. “Them having that relationship I think is gonna be key for us going forward.”
Durant acknowledged the unique leadership dynamic within the Nets, especially with him, Irving and Nash.
“I think a lot of people may question our leadership, overall or just us two,” Durant said. “But when me and Ky talked about being coached every single day, I think that’s leading by example and I think a lot of our teammates are gonna follow that.”
Irving also addressed crunch-time situations and how he and Durant will play off each other and who would take the last shot. Irving said it would be about “who was hot” at the time but explained that this is the first time in his career he feels like he has a crunch-time equal on his team.
“One thing I’ve always been comfortable with, I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch,” Irving said. “This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That motherf—er can make that shot too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.
“It’s not so much deferring, because in past situations where I didn’t take the last shot I felt guilty. I want this game-winning shot, but also you want to trust your teammates. Not that I didn’t trust my teammates, but I felt like I was the best option.”
The remarks were seemingly a shot at LeBron James, with whom Irving played three seasons in Cleveland. James told ESPN on Thursday that he was aware of Irving’s comments but declined to comment further.
Irving posted a series of videos on Twitter later Thursday in which he responded to the speculation he was taking a shot at James, referring to it as “false narratives.”
“Why must it always be brother against brother… why?” Irving said. “If I’m addressing anyone, I’ll say their name. Come on, y’all. Don’t listen to the false narratives. Let people live their lives! It’s just a game.
“You talk openly. You talk freely. But because we live in a clickbait society, it becomes something bigger. You don’t have to defend it. That’s just what media is. … It’s entertainment. I’m not going to let it put me against anybody anymore, at any point. Because that’s not what it’s about. … Don’t have to put me against anyone else! It’s never been about that. It’s about the love. Peace.”