After the Brooklyn Nets hired Steve Nash, an NBA Hall of Fame point guard, to be their next head coach, ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith said the hiring was an example of white privilege.
Smith, who said he “love[s]” Nash, complained that black former players don’t get the kind of opportunity that Nash is getting by joining a Nets team that — if healthy — could compete for a championship next season.
“This is one of the toughest, toughest positions that I’ve ever had to take in my career on ‘First Take,’ and here is why,” Smith said, before going on to list some of the reasons he believes Nash is a great person who is extremely knowledgeable about basketball — but has no formal coaching experience.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s no way around this,” Smith said. “This is white privilege. This does not happen for a black man. No experience whatsoever on any level as a coach, and you get the Brooklyn Nets job?”
Oddly, throughout his monologue about Nash’s hiring, Smith admits that Nash deserves the job, and also that two black superstar players, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, most likely signed off on the deal. But despite deserving the job and being approved by the black men he will be coaching, Nash has received white privilege.
Smith believes that in these sensitive times of racial unrest and social justice protesting, the hiring was inappropriate.
“In these times, when we’re making all of this noise about social justice, I got news for you, Molly and Max, I have said this to people on numerous occasions right here on this show, that was the tipping point,” Smith said. “George Floyd’s murder. Violence against black people who are unarmed. All of that stuff is true. But the frustration and the protests and all of these things you see in the streets of America emanating from the black community and disenfranchised communities, that proverbial glass ceiling, the fact that it breeds a level of frustration that we can’t even put into words sometimes.
“You just want to scream,” Smith continued. “You want to scream to the high heavens. How in the hell does this always happen for somebody else other than us? Why is it that we have to be twice as good to get half as much? Why is it that no matter what we do and how hard we work, and how we go through the process and the terrain of everything, somehow, some way, there’s another excuse to ignore that criteria, and instead bypass it and make an exception to the rule for someone other than us. So I’m depressed right now because I have to bring that up.”