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
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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