When two-time MVP Steve Nash was hired as the Brooklyn Nets' head coach, many people from the African-American community called out the decision and labelled it "white privilege." They claim that there are African-American coaches who are more qualified than Nash. In response to the controversy, Lone Asian coach Erik Spoelstra added his two cents.
Nash had a long, illustrious career as an NBA player, but not as a head coach. Inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, Nash is one of the handful of Canadians in the Basketball Hall-of-Fame, the other being Dr. James Naismith himself. While he does have experience as part of the coaching staff for the Golden State Warriors, his credentials were not enough for some African-American community members and they severely criticised the Nets management for their choice of head coach. They claim that Nash landed the job based on him being caucasian.
The Asian Coaches Association, founded by Mike Magpayo, the head coach of UC Riverside and Miami Heat head coach and two-time NBA champion, Erik Spoelstra, gave their thoughts.
"I would love to be able to talk to owners, general managers, and administrators in college, or athletic directors in high school. To be able to open their eyes to some very talented young coaches out here of a different ethnicity," said Erik Spoelstra.
Spoelstra and Magpayo are both of Filipino descent. There are other Asians in a leadership position in the NBA such as Deputy Commissioner Mike Tatum, who is Vietnamese. Richard Cho, a Burmese, is the former general manager of the Portland Trail Blazers, Charlotte Hornets, and now the Vice President of the Memphis Grizzlies. There are others, but the list is not very long.
The African-American community is concerned about the dwindling number of Black coaches in the league. It was as high as 14 coaches eight years ago. This year, the list is down to five.
They are also concerned about the diminishing number of Black players in the league. It was as high as 80% five years ago and now down to 70% with the influx of white European players.
According to The Undefeated, when Nash spoke about his appointment, he mentioned the need for more diversity among head coaches in the league. Spoelstra, the only Asian head coach, said that Asian coaches never get the same opportunities. He is only lucky that his father worked as an executive for the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, and New Jersey Nets and got his foot in the door.