By Ken Reed

It looks like Steve Nash’s remarkable basketball career is over. Ongoing nerve issues involving his back have shut down the 40-year-old two-time NBA MVP.

Nash was admired by teammates and opponents alike for maximizing his ability.

“I told him that if you would have told me a 6-foot white guy from Canada was going to be back-to-back MVPs, I would have said you’re absolutely nuts,” said Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki, a former teammate of Nash. “He had an unbelievable ride.

“To me, he was one of the fiercest competitors I know. He was little, but he didn’t take anything from nobody. He always wanted to win in practice and always got better. He was a great teammate and a great friend, and I was sad to see him go out that way.”

Nash will also be missed for his willingness to take a public stand on political, social and cultural issues of the day. That’s a rare trait in this day and age of highly-compensated professional athletes. The common mantra among today’s athletes is “Don’t rock the boat. It might damage your brand.”

In an excellent column on Nash, Dave Zirin nailed it when he wrote:

“We should also thank him for daring to be a voice of resistance when it mattered most. As the war on Iraq was being planned early in 2003, there was silence throughout the sports world … Into this stifling atmosphere came Steve Nash, then with the Dallas Mavericks, showing up at the 2003 All-Star game wearing a T-shirt that read, ‘No war. Shoot for preace.’ When challenged by a shocked press corps, Nash said, ‘I think that war is wrong in 99.9 percent of all cases. I think [Operation Iraqi Freedom] has much more to do with oil or some sort of distraction, because I don’t feel as though we should be worrying about Iraq.’

“He leveled a tragically prescient statement to the powers that be, saying, ‘I think that Saddam Hussein is a crazy dictator, but I don’t think he’s threatening us at this point in time.”

In retrospect, it’s easy to see he nailed that one. But at the time, it was a bold stand for Nash to take.

Zirin points out that Nash continued to voice his opinion on contemporary issues while an all-star with the Phoenix Suns.

“Nash continued to stand strong when starring in Phoenix. The execrable Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona—with majority statewide support—signed into law a series of draconian laws criminalizing anyone who even looked like a Latino immigrant. Nash responded by organizing his team on Cinco de Mayo to all wear shirts that said Los Suns. He said, ‘I think the law is very misguided. I think it is unfortunately to the detriment to our society and our civil liberties, and I think it is very important for us to stand up for things we believe in. I think the law obviously can target opportunities for racial profiling. Things we don’t want to see and don’t need to see in 2010.'”

Steve Nash was a true professional. His work ethic, leadership skills, and team-fist attitude were at the top-of-the-charts.

His work off the court as a social activist was superior as well.

As Zirin concluded, “Here’s hoping that when it comes to speaking his mind, he never retires.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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