As hard as it might be for the masses to admit, Kevin Durant was right.
Sure, it felt cold and nasty when the story leaked out that Durant wanted both coach Steve Nash and GM Sean Marks fired in order for him to stay with the Brooklyn Nets.
Months later, it’s one down, and perhaps one to go.
We can sit around and argue about Marks being whacked. He’s done a good job building a roster that can certainly compete for a championship if all the stars are aligned, i.e. players stay healthy and play up to their abilities.
In regards to Nash, there just was justification to continue to have him helm the team.
He was bad, terrible.
That’s why it shouldn’t have come as a big surprise that he got canned Tuesday after the Nets’ woeful 2-5 start. If you were honest about the whole situation, Nash — the former back-to-back NBA MVP — should have been fired after the Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. He was totally out-coached, and in over his head. Somehow, he couldn’t adjust to the Celtics’ defense and couldn’t figure out a way to get KD or Kyrie Irving any open shots. It was embarrassing.
And his team didn’t play defense. It was brutal to watch.
Joe Tsai, the Nets’ owner, originally backed Nash and Marks after the story of Durant’s wishes was leaked.
He tweeted that he was keeping the two. It wasn’t because they had earned their keep, but because he didn’t want it to come off as if KD was running the Nets and not him.
Star players wanting a coaching change isn’t new. Magic Johnson got Paul Westhead fired despite him leading the Lakers to a championship in L.A.
And the timing makes total sense. You don’t want the season to get away from you. There’s still plenty of time to get the ship righted.
The Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi after a 22-27 start. They made a needed change early in the season, and are now just two wins away from a World Series title.
This ending in Brooklyn doesn’t mean Nash can’t coach a lick or can’t get another opportunity in the league. It just means his time had run out like the expiration on milk.
Sometimes, players need a new voice and direction. It just seemed as if the Nets had tuned out Nash and weren’t responding.
The NBA is a players’ league. Coaching is important, but not better than having great players to perform. In the NBA, two or three players totally dictate if you have an honest chance to win and win big. It’s just not like that in MLB and the NFL. You need so many things to go right and there are so many layers in those sports.
Former Pistons GM Joe Dumars said it right when he put together that championship team of misfits and castoffs that beat the Shaq and Kobe Lakers in 2004.
To get there, Dumars had to trade some of the very players he’d drafted that didn’t pan out to get the right pieces for his team. “It’s not about being right, it’s about getting it right,” Dumars famously said.
The same goes for the Nets some 20 years later.
In firing Nash, the Nets got it right no matter what it feels or looks like. Nash — who had no previous coaching experience before getting the gig — will be fine. He’s not the first former great player who failed at coaching.
The list of failed former superstars is so long that it won’t fit here on the internet. We can start with Magic Johnson. Great basketball player, bad coach.
Wayne Gretzky was the greatest player in the NHL and a lousy coach.
Ted Williams was one of MLB’s greatest hitters, the last man to bat over .400 in a season; yet, he flopped as a manager. And Bart Starr was a great NFL quarterback, but another bad coach. What happened to Nash is normal. The best coaches, for whatever reason, seem to be guys who either didn’t make it to the league or were role players.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr is the perfect example. He was a role player with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Now, he’s won four titles with the Golden State Warriors as their coach.
Let’s face it: KD was right. Accept it.