- Name: Steven John Nash
- Height: 6'3"
- Weight: 195lbs
- College: Santa Clara
- Jersey Number: 13
- Position: PG
The unlikely and inspiring journey of Steve Nash to NBA stardom began in Johannesburg, South Africa, on February 7th, 1974, the date of his birth. His parents were understandably against raising a child under apartheid, so they packed up and moved to Canada, settling in Victoria, British Colombia.
As a child, Steve excelled at soccer, lacrosse, and Canada's celebrated pastime, hockey. He came from a family of athletes, their sport of choice being soccer. His father John and brother Martin both played professional soccer in England.
Steve intially took up basketball for social purposes, because he wanted hang out with his friends who enjoyed the game. Displaying tremendous work ethic for someone so young, Steve dedicated himself to improving his game, modelling himself after Isiah Thomas. In interviews, he recounts spending hours studying taped NBA games in order to learn players' moves, which he perfected by himself on the playground after all his friends had gone in for dinner.
Nash attended St. Michael's University School in Victoria, where he led the basketball team to victory in the AAA Senior Boys Provincial Championships. He wrote several letters of inquiry to American universities, hoping for a scholarship. He got a single offer, from Santa Clara in California.
Playing for the Broncos, Steve's work ethic made him a star contributor and a successful college player. When his coach mentioned he could work on his defense, Nash worked tirelessly to turn himself into a good defender. When someone told him he didn't have great ballhandling, he took to bouncing a tennis ball everywhere he went.
Broncos Coach Dick Davey, when publicly commenting on Steve's diligence actually went so far as to call the young Canadian "deranged", while adding that in his entire coaching career he'd never seen anyone as dedicated to self-improvement:
In my 25 years of coaching, I've never seen a player spend more time trying to make himself better. We would practice for two hours, and he would come back to the gym at 11 o'clock that night--he had a key to the gym-- and practice until one o'clock in the morning. He's one of those few players who would make more demands on himself than a coach would, and he made the other players work harder. Other players were embarrassed if they didn't work, and they got caught up in his enthusiasm.
As a result, Steve left Santa Clara having broken records in three-point shooting, assists, and free throw percentage, as well as twice being named West Coast Player of the Year. It was during this time that Donn Nelson, then an assistant for the L.A. Clippers, heard reports about Nash, and after scouting him came away highly impressed by what he saw.
In the 1996 NBA Draft, Steve Nash went 15th overall to the Phoenix Suns, the highest draft selection to date of a Canadian player. Due to congestion at the point guard position (i.e. Jason Kidd and Sam Cassell), Steve played few minutes during his rookie season, and finished with averages of 3.3 ppg and 2.1 apg. Nash fared slightly better in his sophomore season, averaging 9.1 ppg and 3.4 apg. This caught the attention of several General Mangers in the league, including Dallas Mavericks Head Coach and GM, Don Nelson (aka Nellie) whose son and current assistant coach Donnie Nelson had previously scouted Nash.
On June 25 1998, the Mavericks added Nash to their roster, in exchange for Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, Pat Garrity, and a future 1st round draft pick.
Nash's first two seasons in Dallas were plagued by injuries which he didn't tell anyone about. Recovering from the effects of plantar fasciitis and a back injury, it was small miracle Nash was even able to play. The fans didn't know about this, and he received a decidedly chilly welcome. Along with the struggling rookie, Dirk Nowitzki, Nash found himself being routinely booed by the crowd, even at home games.
No longer troubled by his injuries, Steve showed his true ability in the 2000-2001 season, leading the Mavericks to their first entry in the playoffs since 1981. During that season, Nash averaged 15.6 ppg, 7.3 apg, and boasted a 50% in field goals, and 90% in free throws. After losing two games to the Utah Jazz in the first round of playoffs, Nash rallied his squad for three straight victories to advance to the second round, becoming only the sixth team in NBA history to come back from being 0-2 to take the series.
In 2001-2002, the Mavs made the playoffs again, largely due to the leadership of Steve Nash. That season, he averaged 17.9 ppg and 7.7 apg. He ranked #4 in the NBA in three-point shot percentage (45%), and #9 overall in assists per game. For the first time, Nash was named an All-Star reserve on the Western Conference squad, becoming the first Canadian to ever play in an NBA All-Star game.
Although Nash grew up idolising Isiah Thomas, he is most often compared to John Stockton, because of his incredible understanding of the game. Steve is known for his shifty eyes (as well as his bad hair--he's been dubbed the "Canadian Coif"), which have an uncanny knack for finding the open man.
During the offseason, Steve plays for the Canadian National Team, along with fellow NBA Canadians Todd MacCulloch of the New Jersey Nets and Jamaal Magloire of the New Orleans Hornets. Steve's leadership has transformed the Canadian team into something of a budding world basketball power. At the 2000 Olympics, despite finishing in 7th place, the final 5-2 record of the Canadians was second only to that of the United States. They also earned a bronze medal in the Tournament of the Americas.
all stats are from www.nba.com