Jun 20 2012 1:41PM

How I Almost Killed Steve Nash

Coming off another fine season, especially one for a 37-year-old point guard in the walk year of his contract, Steve Nash is virtually guaranteed to be the top PG prize this summer. After all, who wouldn't want a seasoned point man who can give you a double-double in points and dimes, shoot over 50 percent from the field (39 from three) and be an automatic 90 percent from the line. With championship-aspiring suitors like the Knicks, Heat, Lakers and possibly the Mavericks looking to woo Nash to wear their jersey, he is about to embark on his last big payday--except it almost never happened.

* * *

This morning I attended the launch for the Galaxy S III, Samsung's latest smartphone that is positioned to be an iPhone killer (the phone is crazy dope, I'll post up something on it later). In addition to covering the phone, I was also there to talk to Walt "Clyde" Frazier and Nash, who were on hand to lend some star power to the launch.

Being a big launch, the space was divided into several areas, each highlighting one of the phone's features. At the "camera" area was Nash. He was manning a station where a basketball floor and a full-sized rim was mounted on a wall of colored lights (see photo at left). The backboard/rim was standard-sized and about six-feet high. My 3-year-old son might be able to jump and touch the rim. Suffice to say it was low. So the point of this setup was for guests and media to playfully take an action photo of them scoring against Nash so they can show off the phone's high-speed image-capturing capabilities and its burst mode of 3 photos per second (impressive phone, like I said). I'm usually not one to engage in these schlocky photo moments and I pride myself in maintaining my professionalism at all times. I stood off to the side and snapped the photo above for a quick tweet. Big Mistake No. 1.

In between photos with people, Steve notices me and my Nike Free Run 3s that are an orange hue so bright that it might show up on Google Maps if I happened to be in its line of sight. Big Mistake No. 2.

Steve approaches me and cajoles me into the demo. Of course, joining him is a mass of PR reps (if you've ever been to one of these events, you would know that PR folks oftentimes outnumber media 2-to-1, so at least four pounced on me like a wounded rabbit) goading me on to do it. Not usually one to cave to peer pressure, I uncharacteristically relented. Big Mistake No. 3.

Dropping my bag, phone (I was mid-tweet) and all sense of good sense, I figured I play along. So as I'm making small talk with Steve (he once played the role of Straight Shooter for HOOP, where he answered reader questions) one of the PR handlers is giving me instructions. Amidst the conversation with Steve and the loud music, I heard only the ending: "...go have fun with it." Big Mistake No. 4.

Steve tosses me the mini ball and waits by the rim. He's mockingly playing the matador and tells me to "go for it." Now, I'm 5-8 on a good day, so my offensive repertoire consists of jumpers, teardrops and the occasional layup if it presents itself. So at six feet from this ridiculously short rim with Steve Nash baiting me on, I decide to heed his advice and well, go for it. Big Mistake No. 5

I take a dribble (I've always hated the dudes who would blatantly travel, even during a dunk contest) and go up. I don't know whether it was trying to make an impression (I LOL'd after typing that), trying to show the majority of the assembled tech media that I was from a basketball pub, or just stupidity (I'm 100 percent it's the latter), but I go up and dunk. Two-hander. Young Shaq-style, like on his Reebok logo. I even pull myself up a little. Big Mistakes No. 6, 7 and 8.

* * *

Now let me rewind things a bit (all gleaned after what happens): While I was talking to Steve and putting my things down, one of the PR reps (if you look at the photo above, he's the dude not Steve Nash in the photo) apparently tells me: "You can go at Steve and do anything you like--just don't hang on the rim." I, of course, only heard everything after that. Rehash of Big Mistake No. 4.


via @SteveNash Twitter
What should've happened
I think I was pretty proud of myself for a split second, that is, until I felt the rim coming down with my weight. The only two things I can distinctly recall after that was: The gasps of "ohno-ohno-ohno-ohno-ohno-ohno-ohno" and the horrified look on Nash's face. The whole "wall" that the rim/backboard was mounted on tips over. As I let go to brace the whole setup, which I reckon to weight about 200 pounds, about to collapse, I see Steve go from horror to hero as he helps me (I'm using the word help, but it's really just him holding the wall and the momentum of my ill-fated dunk.

Flashes of his impending free agency flickered across my mind. Internet headlines and bloggers would deservedly have a field day. It would be a The Onion story becoming reality (headline: "Nash's Career Ended By Overzealous Media Member--At A Frickin Phone Launch"). Thankfully, a swarm of workers, PR reps and others rushed to the rescue, catching the tipping wall and saving Nash's life (I hope, by now, you realize I'm exaggerating the use of death here. I know Nash has taken a Robert Horry hip check and broken a nose or two, but this really could've ended badly.) and salvaging whatever little grace and dignity I had left.

Needless to say, whatever "professionalism" (did I mention I was wearing bright orange sneakers in a sea of suits and business-attired folks?) I had was now gone. The 100-plus-degrees in New York today had nothing on the heat I was feeling in my face. Like the Galaxy S III's camera, I went "burst mode" on apologies. I "sorry-ed" Steve nonstop and made sure he was OK. (He was, and good-naturedly laughed off the whole thing.) I turned around and proceeded to apologize to anyone and everyone, even the hired models who were walking around with drinks and food. I apologized to all the PR reps (as I said, there were many), each one multiple times. When I was done, I started the rounds of apology again.

They managed to stabilize the wall and rim. Of course my little stunt shut down the station for a bit, kind of like a defective ride at an amusement park. I wanted to slink away, but I decided to ride it out. I stayed put and did my best to explain myself. Nothing was wrong. The lights on the wall still worked. The rim was intact. And a PR rep even backhandedly "thanked" me for testing the rim and helping them prepare for the rest of the day's continuing media sessions.

When my penance was over, I stride over to the photo station where printouts of the basketball pictures with Nash were available for pickup.

PR rep at station: "Hi, which photo are you here to pick up?"

Me: "Um, I'm the guy who almost tore down the basket and wall and nearly killed Steve Nash."

PR Rep: [holds back a fit of laughter] "Oh, you're him...well, they never printed. I think when you went up and they saw the whole thing coming down, the person who was taking pictures forgot to take the the photo."

Me: [fighting back mixed emotions of elation over this entire incident not being committed to virtual memory and disappointment over not having this once-in-lifetime moment keepsake] "Really? No way..."

"PR Rep: "Yea, Steve actually came by before you to ask for them. He wanted to a copy to keep for himself."

I still don't really believe her and the conspiracist in me thinks the photos exists and will be used for yuks or at least for training purposes going forward. If there was a witness who was fortunate enough snap a picture of the debacle, please send it my way. Tweet it my way @hoopmag. It would be greatly appreciated.

As for the rest of the event, I did my best to soldier on. Every look my way raised suspicions of whether or not I was being pointed out as THAT guy (I never like to be THAT guy. Not that anyone ever wants to.) I also stayed because I was scheduled to interview, you guessed it: Steve Nash. Reaching new heights (or should it be "lows") of self-deprecation, I did my best to cope with my gaffe while Nash graciously deflected any ill will and embarrassment on my part. "No big deal. I'm glad it happened. It was a funny moment."

At the end of the interview, I was offered a photo with Steve. Typically, I eschew from such practices. But with almost zero professionalism left intact and the whole chain of events caused by breaking one of my rules, I decided to break another.

Steve Nash, if you read this: I'm still very sorry.