New Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash conceded he did 'skip the line' ahead of more experienced coaching candidates.
The Nets hired the two-time MVP last week and the appointment drew some criticism owing to Nash's lack of coaching experience.
In his introductory news conference on Wednesday, held virtually from Brooklyn, the Hall of Fame point guard conceded: "I did skip the line, frankly. But at the same time, I think leading an NBA team for almost two decades is pretty unique. So, while I haven't necessarily learned some of the skills that I'll definitely seek to understand and learn as far as the technical aspects of coaching, I was never far from that.
"To lead a team in such a unique position, to be the head of the team on the floor, to think on the fly, to manage personalities and people, skill sets, and bring people together, collaborating with a coach and a coaching staff for almost two decades, it's not like I was in a vacuum. I learned a tremendous amount during my career."
Nash is not the first former player to bypass the assistant coaching ranks on the way to his first job as the head coach. Among others are Steve Kerr, who has led the Golden State Warriors to three NBA titles, as well as Doc Rivers, who guided the Boston Celtics to the championship in 2008.
"I haven't grinded it out as an assistant coach, like many people's path, but there's a precedent for players who have strong careers, who are leaders, anchors," Nash, 46, said. "I think to get this opportunity, as Steve Kerr and many other people have had great success, it's a unique situation, I think.
"But I definitely realise that I need support. I'm going to hopefully bring a lot of qualities and skills to the table that are unique and strong, but I'm going to need support and a collaborative staff that has a lot of experience and is willing to build this with me."
Nash's hiring came as a surprise and drew the ire of some commentators as experienced coaches, some of them black, were bypassed. And while he said he believes he was hired because of his reputation as an on-court leader, he said he understands that white privilege is real.
"I have benefitted from white privilege," he said. "Our society has a lot of ground to make up. I'm not saying this position was a factor, as far as white privilege... I think, as white people, we have to understand we have a certain privilege and a benefit by the colour of our skin in our communities.
"We have a long way to go to find equality and social and racial justice. I hope that I'm a great ally in that cause. It's interesting, being such a supporter and ally of that need for equality, to be put in the middle of it, in a sense, because it's something that's near and dear to my heart. But I accept it. I want to be part of the conversation. And, frankly, I want to be a part of change moving forward."
Nash spent 18 seasons in the NBA with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. An eight-time All-Star, he won back-to-back league MVP awards following the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.
On the latest edition of the Heatcheck Overtime podcast, BJ Armstrong and Mo Mooncey offered their thoughts on Nash's appointment.
"It's a good fit for this group at this time, at least on paper," said Armstrong. "With a first-year coach, I'm always concerned with learning on the job. It is always more positive to learn when you are winning. This group he is stepping into has high expectations moving forward because he will be coaching Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. I believe this is a good hire for (the Nets). Hopefully Nash, with all he has learned in the league, will be able to figure out a way to help Brooklyn move forward."
Mooncey said: "On paper, this is the perfect choice. When you are dealing with players like Durant and Irving, they are two of the most talented scorers of a basketball in the world. (The Nets) don't need a coach who super-into Xs and Os or super-into statistics. What you need is someone that those two players are going to look at and respect their opinion.
"Nash worked with the Warriors when Durant was there. We saw how he helped KD, Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) elevate their games. If you thought Kyrie Irving was good before, he is about to take this to a whole other level working with Nash, one of the best point guards to ever walk this Earth."
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In 1,217 career games, Nash averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists, leading the NBA five times in the latter category. He ranks second all-time in free-throw percentage (90.4) and assists (10,335).
Following his retirement in 2014, Nash served as a consultant with the Warriors and as the general manager of the national team in his native Canada.