Canadian Sports Legends: Where Are They Now? .... Steve Nash

Legends Sep 09, 2020

Stephen John Nash was born on February 7th, 1974 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  His family moved to Canada when Steve was 18 months old – first to Regina before settling in Victoria (next door to future NHL’ers Russ and Geoff Courtnall).

It all began in their Victoria backyard with Dad John (a former professional soccer player) running soccer skills clinics and encouraging young Nash and brother Martin to learn to look for each other and share the ball.  Nash didn’t discover basketball until he was 12 years old, telling his Mom at the time that he was going to become an NBA star.  In his senior high school year Nash averaged nearly a triple double and led his team to the provincial championship and was named the Province’s Player of the Year.

At the time, NCAA scouts didn’t spend much time in Canada, so the skinny 6-ft 3-in. point guard from Victoria attracted little U.S. university attention.  Nash’s high school coach sent letters and highlight reels to over 30 U.S. universities, but it was only the coach of the Santa Clara Broncos who decided to take a closer look and went on to offer Nash a scholarship.  In his first year with the team, Nash helped propel the #15-ranked Broncos to victory over #2 Arizona in one of the NCAA tournaments great upsets.

Drafted 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1996 NBA Draft, Nash developed into one of the finest shooters and playmakers in NBA history.   Nash admits that he was “young and dumb” when he asked his childhood idol Michael Jordan for his shoes after their first encounter on an NBA court – a rookie move that angered his teammates at the time (Nash wouldn’t trade MJ’s sneakers for the world).  

After successful runs with the Suns & Maverick it was a trade to the LA Lakers in 2012 to join Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard that was meant to allow Nash to win his elusive championship ring. Sadly, Nash broke his leg during the second game of the season and he never fully recovered, officially retiring after the 2015 season.   Over his 18-season NBA career, Nash led the league in assists five times and recorded career averages of 14.3 points and 6.7 assists in 1,217 regular season games.  Nash can take credit for not only putting Canada on the basketball map but for paving the way for many future Canadian NBA prospects.

Internationally, Nash led Team Canada for over a decade, which included captaining Canada on a dramatic run to the quarterfinals of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  He returned nine years later to take on the role of GM for Canada’s 2012 Olympic team.

Nash’s career highlights and achievements include:

  • Named an NBA All-Star eight times.
  • Became only the second Canadian inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2018.
  • First Canadian to be awarded the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the NBA’s MVP (2005) and then joining the likes of Jordan, Bird and Magic Johnson when he was a repeat winner in 2006.  Nash was favoured to win his third consecutive MVP award in 2007, but unfortunately politics got in the way (could a Canadian guy born in South Africa really be put in the same league as Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird and Bill Russell?  …. Apparently not)
  • Five-time NBA assists leader (2005-2007, 2010, 2011)
  • Awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year in 2005
  • Three-time Lionel Conacher Award recipient as Canadian male athlete of the year.
  • Two NBA rings as a consultant for the Golden State Warriors

What’s Steve doing now?

Since 2004, Nash has supported the Steve Nash Youth Basketball program across Canada through his Steve Nash Foundation.  He is a co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps, a chain of health and fitness clubs, and a film company that produced ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Terry Fox Into the Wind.  This past week Nash started a new chapter in his basketball story being named as coach of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets … only the second Canadian Head Coach in NBA history (after Jay Triano).  Does Kevin Durant + Kyrie Irving + Steve Nash = NBA Championship? Stay tuned to find out.