Q+A: Steve Nash
The point guard talks free agency, Knicks and his upcoming soccer match in NYC.
by Ben Sin
The 2012 NBA season ended Thursday night, and considering the gloom and doom that presided during and after the lockout, this condensed season turned out pretty well, producing a myriad of memorable storylines—from the rise of the Thunder to Linsanity to, of course, LeBron James finally winning that elusive Championship.
Another subplot that emerged over the second half of the season and lasted through the Playoffs was the continual excellent play of aging NBA players with plenty of mileage on their legs. Players such as Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash—36, 36 and 38 years old, respectively—are still producing at high levels.
Nash was arguably the most impressive, considering the position he plays, his supporting cast, and the extra two years he has on the other two players. Nobody picked his Suns to win many games heading into the season, and he nearly took the Suns to the Playoffs, averaging 13 and 11 a night on 53 percent shooting.
We know he’s a health nut—which is the biggest reason he’s still playing at such a high level—but Nash has another secret: He doesn’t obsess over basketball the way, say, Garnett would. In fact, he doesn’t even play much basketball during the summer, instead opting to play soccer.
The South Africa-born Canadian native has made New York City his summer home for nearly a decade now, playing for two local soccer teams and hosting a charity soccer game since 2008. Dubbed the “Showdown,” the eight-a-side soccer match has featured fellow NBA players such as Chris Bosh and Tony Parker in the past and every cent raised goes to Educare, a program that provides education for children from low-income families.
With the Euro Cup in full swing and Showdown lineups still being organized, Nash has been a busy man. SLAMonline caught up with him for a quick chat.
SLAM: Let’s start with your upcoming free agency. Have you decided what type of situation you’re looking for? It’s safe to say you want to join a team that’s ready to contend, but most of the sure contenders have a starting point guard already, so are you looking to go somewhere to win, even if you may not start?
Steve Nash: I’m considering everything at the moment. I would love to win a Championship, yes, but I’m not one of those people who believe I must win one to have a fulfilling career, so other factors, such as salary, family, playing time, and opportunity for team success all factor in.
SLAM: Would you consider the Knicks? The New York media has been throwing your name around often.
SN: I would consider the Knicks. Amar’e actually called me to tell me about his engagement a couple weeks back, and we talked a bit about how nice it’d be to play together again.
SLAM: What have you been doing this offseason, must have been tough to miss the Playoffs again at this stage of your career.
SN: I’ve been keeping busy with planning for the Showdown, watching soccer and staying in shape. Yes, it’s very tough to not be playing in the Playoffs, especially when I’ve been accustomed to playing almost every year, going back to the Dallas days.
SLAM: Have you been watching the Playoffs?
SN: Yes I have, I’ve been watching the games.
SLAM: Who do you think is winning the title? (This question was asked with Miami up 2-1—Ed.)
SN: I still think OKC, because they have more size and more weapons. But Miami, they’re playing very well at home…
SLAM: Baron Davis was one of the guys who played in your soccer game last summer. Obviously, he won’t be playing this summer because of his injury. So my question is, what did you think of all these injuries this year and the notion that the condensed season had something to do with it?
SN: Well, what happened to Baron [and Rose] were freak injuries, but it’s impossible to rule out the condensed schedule as a factor. It was a very demanding season—it was a grind. There’s no doubt there’s been wear and tear from the schedule.
SLAM: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
SN: I can’t really pick one. To me, all the basketball stuff blends together, I remember teammates and friends more.
SLAM: What about the toughest loss of your career then? You have to remember that, right?
SN: Well, 2010 was tough. We were predicted, by everyone, to miss the Playoffs going into the season but we ended up going to the Western Conference Finals. We were tied 2-2 with the Lakers and were in Game 5 until Artest tipped that shot in. So that one stung, we had a chance to go back to Phoenix up 3-2 which we would have been confident about.
SLAM: About the Showdown now, what was the original vision behind this event?
SN: Well, obviously I love playing soccer, and I knew many people who also love to play, so I figured getting everyone together for a match, with proceeds going to a good cause, would be ideal.
SLAM: Aside from Baron Davis, other NBA players such as Tony Parker, Chris Bosh, Grant Hill, Brandon Jennings, have played in the past. Was it easy getting NBA guys to come out or did it take a bit of convincing?
SN: No, those guys love to play soccer, so it wasn’t too hard.
SLAM: Speaking of soccer, why do you think the game is so big worldwide but not in the US?
SN: I have no idea. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t a part of American culture, we had baseball, and football and basketball, while professional soccer is the main thing everywhere else. But I think it’s growing in the US though. If you would have told me 10 years ago we’d be seeing soccer match results on the ticker of ESPN, I may not have believed you.
The Steve Nash Foundation Showdown takes place June 27, 6:30 p.m., at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side. Bleacher and standing seats are free, on-field seating and after-hour access is available for a donation. Visit stevenash.org/showdown for more information.