TORONTO, Ont. (December 22, 2020) -- Two-time NBA MVP and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, Steve Nash, hit a new career milestone on Tuesday night, earning his first victory as an NBA head coach. Manning the sideline for the Brooklyn Nets, Nash helped coach the Nets to a dominant 125-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors as the two teams tipped off the first game of the 2020-21 NBA season.
Nash is just the second Canadian to be named a head coach in NBA history, following Jay Triano -- currently an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets -- who was the first when he was named head coach of the Toronto Raptors in 2008.
After the game, Nets guard Kyrie Irving presented Nash with the game ball, addressing the locker room as he told Nash, “This is the start of something new right here. I’m grateful to have you…as our coach. I would go to war with you any day, Steve.”
While Nash’s coaching victory was the Canadian highlight of night, three Canadian players were also active on opening night. Facing off against the Nets in Brooklyn were Warriors players Andrew Wiggins and Mychal Mulder. In 31 minutes as a starter, Wiggins finished with 13 points in the loss, while Mulder added eight points in seven minutes off the bench, making all three of his field goal attempts.
In the league’s second game of the night, the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, 116-109. Burlington, Ont. native Mfiondu Kabengele logged just a minute of playing time in the win, but is eager to continue developing after appearing in 13 games with the Clippers as a rookie last year.
A record 17 Canadian players were on opening-night rosters as Canada extended its stretch of most international-born players in the league to a seventh consecutive season. In addition to these 17 players, Nate Darling and Karim Mane have signed two-way contracts with the Charlotte Hornets and Orlando Magic, respectively.
The remaining 14 Canadians will be in action on Wednesday, as the second night of the season features a packed 13-game slate of action. Nash will look for his second coaching victory on Friday when the Nets take on the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day at 5 p.m. ET.