Victoria basketball star Steve Nash has been hired as the head coach for the Brooklyn Nets, the National Basketball Association announced Thursday.
Nash was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and grew up in Victoria, where he would go on to play high school and college basketball before he was drafted into the NBA in 1996.
Nash was the face of Canadian basketball for the better part of two decades, and when he retired in 2015, his 10,335 assists ranked him third all-time behind John Stockton and Jason Kidd.
He became the first Canadian to win the NBA's most valuable player award in 2005 with the Phoenix Suns, and then captured it again in 2006.
The Hall of Fame point guard will now be in charge of a team that hopes to have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together next season.
Nash had been a player development consultant with Golden State, where he worked with Durant.
“Coaching is something I knew I wanted to pursue when the time was right, and I am humbled to be able to work with the outstanding group of players and staff we have here in Brooklyn,” Nash said in a statement.
The Nets finished the season under Jacque Vaughn, who they said would remain on staff as Nash's lead assistant.
The Nets reached the post-season despite having Irving for only 20 games and Durant for none, but the two stars who came to Brooklyn together last summer are expected to be ready for the 2020-21 season.
That made the Nets vacancy an attractive position, and general manager Sean Marks said he met with a number of highly accomplished candidates. There was even speculation the Nets would try to entice Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, for whom Marks played and then worked under in San Antonio.
Instead, Marks turned to one of his former teammates.
“In Steve we see a leader, communicator and mentor who will garner the respect of our players,” Marks said. “I have had the privilege to know Steve for many years. One of the great on-court leaders in our game, I have witnessed firsthand his basketball acumen and selfless approach to prioritize team success.”
Vaughn finished up the season after the Nets surprisingly parted ways with Kenny Atkinson on March 7. He led Brooklyn to the No. 7 in the Eastern Conference despite coming to the restarted season in Disney without many of his top players and Marks had indicated he would be a candidate to keep the job.
Instead, he goes back to his former position as a Nets assistant.
“Jacque has been an integral part of our program and a key contributor to the growth and development of our entire organization,” Marks added. “His role in developing our players both on and off the court and his influence driving our culture have been invaluable.
With files from The Associated Press