Former Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson went on quite a roller coaster ride during his time with the organization. Unfortunately for Atkinson, he saw less ups than he did downs. He and the Nets mutually agreed to part ways less than a year after they signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant during 2019 free agency. Replacing Atkinson with the right candidate was a crucial decision moving forward and ultimately, they decided to roll with Steve Nash as their new head coach.
Hiring Nash as head coach was a head-scratching choice for many. While he did serve as a consultant for the Golden State Warriors for three seasons, Nash had no prior head coaching experience. But as a former two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and being younger than most coaches in the league at age 47, Nash was viewed as a players coach that could bode well for the unique pairing of Irving and Durant. However, Kyrie’s initial comments about Nash being the Nets’ new coach caused quite a ruckus in the NBA community.
“I think it’s also going to change the way we see coaches. I don’t really see us having a head coach. You know what I mean? KD could be a head coach. I could be a head coach,” Irving said last October on The ETCs in a transcript obtained per Nets Wire.
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Gary Payton Calls Out Kyrie Irving in Explosive Rant
While they may have been in good nature many people felt that Irving’s comments about the Nets head coaching structure were disrespectful. One of those people was Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton who called Irving’s comments ‘a shame’ during a recent appearance on Nothing Personal with David Samson.
“That’s just a shame right there. I think that that was a bad statement by him. You should respect the coaches, you should respect the guys that have been put in those positions,” Payton said in a transcript obtained from Nets Wire.
“And if you want to be that guy, if you were a guy that was my superstar, and you come to me, and you perform on the floor and do the things on the floor that you are supposed to, then I’m gonna bring you in on everything I’m gonna do, anyway. Because I wanna keep you happy and keep my team happy.”
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Kyrie Irving Walked Back His Comments About Steve Nash
With all of the backlash that Irving received for his comments last season he did walk them back and explained how he has a deep respect for Nash and what he brings to the Nets as head coach.
“Steve’s been amazing, he kind of commands the respect. I think I’ve got to take back my comments in terms of the head coach back a few months ago,” Irving said per Sporting News.
“But it’s just like, man, we have such a great synergy. Everyone feels like we’re coaching one another to be better, so I’m grateful for that.”
Now that Nash has his first year of head coaching experience under his belt it will be interesting to see what coaching adjustments, he makes to help the Nets secure their first NBA title.