NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson appears to be watching a good deal of Brooklyn Nets basketball. After wishing the Nets’ Kevin Durant a quick recovery after he suffered an MCL sprain on January 8, Johnson spoke up on Twitter about the Nets front office’s relationship with acting head coach Jacque Vaughn.
“Nets Owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks, what are you waiting for? Sign Jacque Vaughn to a long-term contract. He’s earned and deserves a long term deal. This is the best I’ve seen the Brooklyn Nets play!” Johnson tweeted on January 11.
A day earlier, Johnson tweeted that the Nets were “the biggest threat” to take down the Eastern Conference’s top team, the Boston Celtics, this season.
Is Jacque Vaughn a Coach of the Year Candidate?
Because of Brooklyn’s run with Vaughn at the helm, the Nets’ head coach has put himself into the NBA’s Coach of the Year conversation. And Johnson said that as of now Vaughn deserves to take home the hardware as the league’s best coach.
“Brooklyn’s Jacque Vaughn is my leading candidate for Coach of the Year, followed closely by Sacramento’s Mike Brown and Boston’s Joe Mazzulla,” Johnson tweeted.
The Nets got off to a rocky start to the season, going 2-5 before they fired head coach Steve Nash on November 1 and named Vaughn acting head coach. Since taking the reins, Brooklyn has a 25-9 record and has climbed into second place in the Eastern Conference, just three games behind the first-place Celtics.
Players Praise Jacque Vaughn’s Impact
Not only is Vaughn getting credit outside the Nets organization, but he has also been praised by the Nets players, including the team’s two biggest stars, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
“When we came back for this season, the start of the season, there was a lot of talk in the summertime, but for us to bring the group back together and start the year was cool,” Durant told ESPN’s Nick Friedell in a December 31 story. “And then once Jacque became the coach and we started to move forward then, obviously that was a turning point for us.”
Irving explained the impact that Friedell’s level demeanor has had on the Nets’ locker room.
“He gives you an ease,” Irving told Nick Friedell. “When you come into the locker room nothing’s forced; he’s not too high or too low. He’s just holding himself to a high standard, exemplifying what a leader should look like. So as our head coach, as our leader, I’ve been able to learn some things from him.
“And that’s just being able to have relationships with everybody and being able to get the best out of everybody,” Irving said. “And that’s been a lesson for me. I felt like this year was just learning how to get the best out of everybody instead of trying to do it all yourself or trying to overthink the game. We’ve got good pieces in that locker room, a good coaching staff. The level of play should raise and it should get easier.”