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 #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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