“This is all on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons,” Barkley said on TNT’s Inside the NBA, via Colin Loughrin of the New York Post. “Steve Nash is a scapegoat. This thing was never going to work when [Irving] said we don’t need a coach.”
Barkley hinted that the Nets’ drama began with Irving and Durant. Irving missed the first part of last season after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, which had been mandated by the City of New York at the time. He more recently has been at the center of controversy for sharing a link to an antisemitic film.
Meanwhile, during the offseason, Durant issued an ultimatum in which he wanted to be traded if the Nets didn’t fire Nash and GM Sean Marks. He eventually rescinded following a meeting with Nash, Marks and team owner Joe Tsai.
“Nobody was talking about how bad of a coach Steve Nash was three or four years ago,” Barkley said. “All of the sudden these guys start acting like fools and jackasses and now Steve Nash can’t coach.”
As for Irving, specifically, Barkley said he should have been suspended by the NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
“I think he should have been suspended him,” Barkley said. “I think Adam should have suspended him. First of all, Adam is Jewish — you can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion. You gonna insult me, you have the right, but I have the right to say, ‘You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion.’
“I think the NBA, they made a mistake. We’ve suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs. And that was the right thing to do. If you insult the Black community, you should be suspended or fined heavily.”
The Nets are reportedly set to hire Celtics coach Ime Udoka to replace Nash. Udoka has been suspended for the season, by Boston, for what the organization called an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.