Charles Barkley Defends Brooklyn Nets Decision To Hire Steve Nash, Says It’s Not ‘White Privilege’

Steve Nash pictured before an NBA game.
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The Brooklyn Nets have faced some criticism for the hiring of Steve Nash, with critics saying his jump straight to a head coaching position in the NBA is a sign of “white privilege” in action.

Charles Barkley isn’t buying it.

As the New York Post noted, the former Phoenix Suns star-turned-TNT host sounded off about the Nets’ decision to hire Nash, saying that there have been plenty of Black coaches who jumped straight into head coaching positions without working their way up the ladder first.

“I was very disappointed in some of the guys on television today talking about white privilege. Very disappointed,” Barkley said during TNT’s Inside the NBA. “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.'”

As the report noted, there have been 16 people hired to head coaching positions in the NBA without having any previous experience since 1978-79. Nine of those have been Black.

Barkley went on to defend Nash personally, saying he is a “good dude” and that his hire has nothing to do with other systemic issues that have kept qualified Black men out of positions in the league, as well as in college and pro football.

The Nets announced Nash as their new hire this week. As ESPN reported, the team wanted the Hall of Fame point guard to coach Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, believing he can turn the team into a contender in the Eastern Conference.

But the hiring also turned some heads, as Nash had not previously worked as a coach on any level. That is not an entirely new situation, as Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr came into his job with a similarly light resume, and has still been able to lead the team to three titles.

Charles Barkley announces a basketball game.
  Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Some have remained vocal in speaking out against Nash’s hiring, including First Take host Stephen A. Smith. As the New York Post noted, Smith said that such a jump into a top position “does not happen for a Black man.” He stood by the stance even as Barkley and others pushed back.

“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.”