Steve Nash talks about his job, Kevin Durant; a Manila reunion with former teammates & foes
by rick olivares
Two-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Steve Nash puts on several hats these days post-retirement after what is surely a Hall-of-Fame career. In Manila for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Nash wears the hat of general manager for Canada.
Nash says that the transition from player to the front office wasn’t too difficult. He cited that his immediate job was finding the resources to constantly improve and support the national team. “(Aside from the senior national team), it involves raising resources to fund and support our junior academy for 12 and 13-year olds where we give them a first class education on how to improve their games. It’s multi-faceted and we can see the impact on the different age groups. And it helps us keep going with what we are doing.”
As for Team Canada that is currently undefeated in the Manila FIBA OQT (they are playing New Zealand in the knockout crossover semi-finals tomorrow Saturday, July 9), Nash bared that it was difficult putting the team together as they are missing a few stalwarts — for various reasons — who could certainly provide a huge boost to their Olympic dreams. “It’s hard. Obviously, we have some players who are not with us. We actually worked very hard to get some of the guys over here. It’s not an easy landscape in Canada; we have a lot of challenges. But we’re proud of the team that we have here. We don’t have much scoring like we did last summer but we’re very good defensively. So in some ways we’re better than last summer; in some way’s we’re not.”
One player who isn’t available for Canada in the qualifiers in Boston Celtics forward-center Kelly Olynyk who is out recuperating from an injury. Ironically, when Nash first tried out for the Canadian junior national team, he was cut by Kelly’s father, Ken.
“I won’t cut him now,” quipped Nash when this bit of trivia was pointed out. “But we sure could have used Kelly here.”
Other Canadian NBA players not in the roster include Anthony Wiggins (Minnesota Timberwolves), Nik Stauskas (Philadelphia 76ers), and Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets).
In a separate interview, Canada national team coach Jay Triano noted that Nash’s presence gives immense value to the program. “Steve is one of Canada’s most recognizable and accomplished athletes.” glowed Triano who himself has quite a resume for the North American country. “He brings credibility and attention. People listen when he talks.”
Nash being in Manila finds himself in an unlikely reunion with old teammates and foes. France’s Boris Diaw was his teammate with the Phoenix Suns while he competed against the San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker at least four times in a season. “I have a lot of respect for them as players and as people,” said Nash.
Other international players who Nash played against include France’s Mickael Gelabale (Seattle Supersonics), and Nicolas Batum (Portland Trailblazers); Turkey's Omer Asik (Chicago Bulls); the Philippines’ Andray Blatche (Washington Wizards); and fellow Canadians Joel Anthony (Miami Heat) and Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavaliers).
He also shared that in his rookie year with Phoenix, he learned a lot paying behind Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. “As good as my NBA career was — although I missed out on a NBA championship — playing for the national team was the biggest thrill. I hope my enthusiasm for representing your country rubs off on others."