Charles Barkley is an analyst who rarely holds anything back. So he did not mince words when it came to discussing the Brooklyn Nets hiring Steve Nash.
To be clear: Barkley’s issue was not with the Nets decision; he approves of the hire. What “disappointed” Sir Charles, however, were the other talking heads who used Nash’s hiring to highlight white privilege, while pointing out qualified Black candidates (including interim Jacque Vaughn, demoted to lead assistant again) were passed over.
One viewpoint came from ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith, who was clear that his issue did not rest with Nash the player or incoming coach. “One of the best guys you could possibly meet in your life,” Smith said, “but a guy that has no experience whatsoever.”
“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.’”
The issue, as Smith and others see it, is that Nash is another “exception to the rule” of needing years of coaching experience before landing a gig. Indeed, the former point guard has never been a coach, but he did serve as a player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors, where he built a relationship with Nets star Kevin Durant, over the last five years.
Nonetheless, Barkley was not here for any talk of “white privilege.”
“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.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.