Charles Barkley made it known that he was very disappointed in some of the reactions to the Brooklyn Nets hiring Steve Nash.
Nash being named the Nets head coach on Thursday was a surprise, with pundits pointing to his lack of experience. ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith chose to portray the hire as a case of “white privilege,” pointing to a number of Black candidates — included former interim coach Jacque Vaughn — who were passed over.
Barkley, it appeared, directly called Smith out, and he did not hold back.
“I was very disappointed in some of the guys on television today talking about white privilege. Very disappointed,” Barkley said on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” on Thursday. “They’re like, ‘Well, this doesn’t happen to Black guys.’ And I’m like, ‘It happened to Doc Rivers. It happened to Jason Kidd. It happened to Derek Fisher.’
Nine of the 16 coaches hired without any previous experience since 1978-79 are Black.
“When you have a responsibility, especially when you have to talk about something as serious as race, you can’t be full of crap,” Barkley said. “You’ve got to be honest and fair.
“Steve Nash is a great player and a good dude. But I was so disappointed in some of these guys. I was like, ‘Dude, Black guys have done this before.’ Now, do we need more Black coaches in the NBA? Yes. Do we need more Black coaches in college football? Yes. Do we need more Black coaches in pro football. Yes.”
Thursday, Smith asserted on “First Take” that “This does not happen for a Black man.” On Friday’s edition of the show, he did not back down in the face of criticism from Barkley and others.
“I mentioned white privilege (Thursday),” he said. “I have a message to those who feel that I was wrong, that I need to apologize, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, etc., etc. I don’t give a damn what y’all feel. Y’all can all kick rocks. I don’t give a damn. I’m not budging from my position one inch.”
He clarified that, while Black coaches have been hired without experience before, he doesn’t believe they would get the same chance Nash has, inheriting a roster with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and championship aspirations. Nash served as a player development consultant for the Golden State warriors and built a notable relationship with now Nets star Kevin Durant, a role that likely helped his cause with Durant and Irving, thought to be the main player voices behind the Nets’ hire.
“Black folks with no resume getting a job like that?” Smith continued, “I have been covering the NBA for 25 years… brothers do not get those opportunities.”