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Firing Nash

Considering the responses of general manager Sean Marks in his post-firing presser, erstwhile head coach Steve Nash was already walking on eggshells shortly after the start of the 2022-23 campaign. If so, it calls into question why the Nets even bothered to retain the two-time Most Valuable Player awardee in the sidelines. The timing of the parting of ways was in and of itself suspect, coming on the heels of a victory. Taken in the context of the official’s disclosure, it becomes more questionable; forget the bloviated statement that the parties involved “mutually agreed” to cut cleanly.

To be sure, Nash was in over his head from the get-go. He didn’t have any experience whatsoever as assistant or associate head coach, and yet he was hired for a job that came with lofty expectations. No doubt, it was because of the good relationship he had with top dog Kevin Durant when they were both with the Warriors. As he quickly learned, however, there’s a chasm of difference between helping out during scrimmages and actually running them. He did surround himself with capable hands, but he had final say, and his utter lack of in-game poise showed throughout his tenure.

Not that Nash was given a fair shake to see if his best passed muster. Injuries derailed what seemed to be a fruitful playoff run in his inaugural season, and they quickly turned out to be the least of his problems. Off-court concerns exposed the dysfunction to the point of eclipsing on-court strides, and not even his famed amiability could overcome them. From All-Star Kyrie Irving’s refusal to be vaccinated to supposed missing piece James Harden’s refusal to stay to new acquisition Ben Simmons’ refusal to play to Durant’s refusal to lead, he found himself scrambling for — and ultimately failing to find — stability.

Where the Nets go from here remains to be seen. If multiple news reports are to be believed, they’re close to hiring a replacement for Nash, one with previous ties to the franchise and, more importantly, one with the acumen and resolve to take hold of the roster and get it to march to the beat of a common drum. There’s just one problem, however; supposed frontrunner Ime Udoka also happens to be under a season-long suspension by the Celtics, whom he just steered to a Finals appearance.

The Nets already have credibility issues with their kid-gloves treatment of Irving, and going to bat for Udoka serves only to underscore their willingness to set aside any sense of decency in order to get closer to the elusive hardware. Granted, they have a bill of $280 million, taxes included, due for the season, and far be it for them to crash and burn anew. On the other hand, there’s a risk involved in not being able to reach the intended destination, anyway. Success forgives many things; an aborted run at success amplifies them.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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