All Ball Sports: Steve Nash Stays Alive
By Paul Teetor
Steve Nash survived a near death experience this week.
There will be some scars and long-term consequences still unknown, but he will live to lead another season.
In the process, the longtime Manhattan Beach resident learned the most important lesson for an employee in a high-stress workplace: when a big shot with influence in your business tries to make you fire, the key to survival is having a boss who has your back no matter what.
If you’ve done your job well, and you’ve done it properly and ethically, a good boss will support you all the way, no matter who pressures them to fire you.
Even when the big shot pushing is Kevin Durant, the best player on the team Nash coaches, the Brooklyn Nets.
Durant also happens to be one of the top three basketball players in the world, along with LeBron James and Giannis Antetukompo.
But even he couldn’t get Nash fired.
This week saw the culmination of an ugly drama that began six weeks ago when Durant requested a trade to Brooklyn – even though he signed a four-year, $193million contract extension at the start of last season. This extension will come into effect when the 2022-23 season begins next month.
A month and a half ago Durant said very publicly that he wanted to be traded after the Nets were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. The Nets were the preseason favorites to win the NBA title because they had two great players: Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The first-round playoff sweep was devastating for the entire team: players, coaches and front office executives. But especially for Nash, who was in his second year as Nets coach and had faced a chorus of doubters from the time he was offered the job in the summer of 2020.
At that time, he had no coaching experience other than helping little kids at American Martyrs School learn the basics of basketball shooting, which Nash did well enough when he played for the Phoenix Suns to become a two-time NBA MVP.
Immediately after Durant posted his trade request in June, offers began pouring in from the other 29 NBA teams. After all, who wouldn’t want one of the best players in the world on their team?
But then a curious thing happened: no deal materialized. In fact, no potential deal went beyond an initial phone call or two.
Well, there are no secrets in the NBA, where every team has a swarm of media covering them. Naturally, trusting relationships develop between some journalists and some team leaders. It’s always been that way in professional sports, where a lot of work and a lot of money are at stake, and that dynamic will never change.
The other 29 teams quickly learned that the Nets were demanding a royal ransom: a package starting with a certified All-Star player, plus an All-Star caliber player, a few other good young players who could become stars, and at least 3 or 4 first-round picks in exchange for Durant.
Naturally, no team made such an offer. What would be the point of having a title-ready player like Durant at 33 if he comes to a team devoid of any other greats or even any good players.
No matter how big he is, a single elite player is not going to lead a team to a title or even come close. Look at Kobe Bryant from the years 2005-07. The Lakers were Kobe and an unnamed bunch of mates, and the team never even sniffed out a serious playoff run despite Kobe averaging 35 points per game. It wasn’t until the Lakers responded to Kobe’s trade demands by offering him a legitimate sidekick in Pau Gasol that the Lakers won two of the next three NBA titles while making the Finals all three years.
For six weeks, the NBA’s very active vine tossed around potential deal after potential deal that went nowhere. In most cases, the offers on offer were so absurd that there are suspicions that bored members of the media, stuck in a midsummer slump with no games and few transactions to cover, would make them up just to fulfill their columns and their emissions. It’s shocking to think that such a thing could happen, but we know it happens.
Like a sunflower blooming in the midday sun, it quickly became clear that the Nets had no real desire to trade Durant, not least because he had four years left on his new $198 million contract. Why on earth should they have let him out of his contract that hadn’t even started yet?
The Nets, that is, owner Joe Tsai and general manager Sean Marks in particular, were setting the stage to tell Durant just before training camp opened in September: Hey, we tried, but there is no deal for you that works for us. So we’re stuck with each other for the next four years and making it work.
Meanwhile, Durant’s frustration grew and grew. He admitted on one of the many sports podcasts that he smoked weed every day during the offseason, but his daily weed consumption did nothing to make him more patient getting out of Brooklyn.
So this week, Durant went straight to the top: he arranged a meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, a Taiwanese-Canadian tech mogul worth an estimated $9 billion.
The reunion was meant to be an up in the air love fest that would pave the way for Durant to return to the Nets and for the team to promise they would be more responsive to his concerns.
No, it didn’t happen that way at all.
Indeed, the gist of the supposedly super top secret meeting was all over the internet within hours of the pair parting ways.
Conclusion: Durant demanded that GM Marks and Coach Nash be fired immediately. Then and only then would he consider returning to the team and honoring his contract.
And even then, only if Tsai said pretty please.
It’s the kind of crazy request a superstar like LeBron James can — and has — made when he’s in the final year of a contract. He did it twice in Cleveland and he did it to Lakers coach Frank Vogel last spring. When a team faces the threat of losing their superstar within the next 12 months for nothing in return, they will usually do whatever the star wants.
But no one with four years left on their contract has ever made such a request, and Tsai hasn’t become a multi-billionaire by letting his employees issue ridiculous ultimatums and roll him over.
So he decided to call Durant’s bluff. Hours after Durant’s demands went public, Tsai issued the kind of response any self-respecting landlord should issue: Fuhgeddaboudit.
It was, of course, a colloquial Brooklyn expression. The actual words: “Our front office and coaching staff have my full support,” Tsai tweeted on Monday. “We will make decisions in the best interests of the Brooklyn Nets.”
And just like that, Nash knew he would have a third season in the first coaching job he ever had.
The real question, however, is: why the hell would he want a third season of this madness.
The revival of Redondo hoops
They gather the basketball group at Redondo Union High School.
And that’s bad news for the rest of the Bay League.
Very bad news, in fact – especially for rival Mira Costa, whose men’s basketball team won their first Bay League title just a few years ago as Redondo hit rock bottom.
Former RUHS sporting director Andy Saltzman kicked off the revival when he returned a few months ago after two years as sporting director at Villa Park.
Then news broke this week that the boys’ former basketball coach Reggie Morris was returning.
The next step, as surely as day follows dawn, will certainly be an influx of talented players from outside the district. It will be an infusion of talent that will turn the program plummeting back to its former glory.
You can deposit it at the direct deposit bank.
Morris, the son of LA hoops coaching legend Reggie Morris Sr., led the Sea Hawks to four consecutive Bay League titles from 2012 to 2016 and a state championship in 2013 before leaving to become an assistant at Loyola Marymount.
By the time he left Redondo, he had established such a large talent pool for the Sea Hawks that they won four more Bay League titles before rival Mira Costa won the title in the second year of the league. coach Neal Perlmutter in 2019-20. season, just weeks before the pandemic hit in early March.
Since his one year at Loyola, Morris has spent time coaching at Culver City and Fairfax High School in the City Section as well as Pepperdine University.
As a high school coach, Morris set a 15-season record of 339-126 and coached future NBA players Russell Westbrook, Dorell Wright and Delon Wright.
He and his father, Reggie Sr., are the only father-son combination to win the California State High School Basketball Championships. His father coached Manual Arts to the Division I crown in 1988.
In 2011, Morris Jr. took over as principal of St. Bernard High School. The Vikings went from a four-game winning season before his arrival to 26-9 and 25-8 during his two years there, which included a second-place finish in the 2011 Division V State Championship and a the southern section CIF 5AA 2012.
The turnaround in Redondo may not be as quick, but it will surely happen. It’s because of the kind of close relationships he’s developed with SoCal AAU teams, where real talent development continues for players ages 8-14. By the time they are ready to enter high school, most future stars have already been identified and recruited by many high schools.
And that’s where Morris really excels.
A native of Los Angeles, Morris attended Westchester High School for three years before graduating from Locke High School in 1996. He played there for his father and averaged 15 points while earning All-Around honors. leagues.
Mira Costa head coach Neal Perlmutter said he had welcomed Morris to the Bay League and admitted his team, which includes three returning senior stars in point guard Will Householter, shot-stopper Dylan Black and forward Nick Lundy now faces a serious threat once again from Redondo.
“Reggie is a great coach who has had success wherever he has gone,” Perlmutter said. “Redondo hasn’t been quite where they have been for the past few years, but I’m sure he will lead them back to being one of the best teams in the South Bay and beyond.”
But he insisted Morris’ return will not change the way his side approach the upcoming season, which starts in two months.
“It doesn’t change what we do on our side. Our program is moving in the right direction,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll be even more ready than usual for the two league matches with them in January and February.”
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