Water Cooler Talk: Parker/Nash
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SECAUCUS, N.J., Nov. 15, 2007 -- In the Nov. 8 Race to the MVP Mailbag, I went back and forth with fellow editor John Jacobson over who was better, Utah's Deron Williams or New Orleans' Chris Paul. This week I knock heads with colleague Josh Cohen about San Antonio's Tony Parker and Phoenix's Steve Nash. Enjoy.

By Josh Cohen By Maurice Brooks
The Spurs’ Tony Parker is better than the Suns’ Steve Nash.

Why is everyone laughing at me like I’m on a hot date eating an ice cream cone in 105-degree weather?

Unless you have mastered the technique, eating ice cream off a cone in the scorching heat is not the thing to do when trying to impress someone.

Again, Parker is better than Nash. Doubters, what would you prefer?

  • To be the contestant in a spelling bee who correctly spells a crazy word like croquembouche but eventually loses OR the contestant who wins the spelling bee by correctly spelling words that you might use in everyday conversation?

  • To be the student who earns the best score on the most difficult exam in the history of an academic institution but receives a B in the course based on the rest of your test grades OR the student who just flat out gets good enough scores consistently to eventually earn an A in the class?

    If you answered with the second choice for both questions, not only do you agree with me on these subjects, but you also concur that Parker is the choice.

    Parker may not win two MVPs like Nash, and yes, he plays with arguably the greatest power forward (Tim Duncan) in NBA history. But Parker performs his best when it matters most, and these points should make it clear as to why he is better than Nash.

  • Parker is a three-time NBA champion and reigning Finals MVP, while Nash has never advanced past the conference finals.

  • Nash's career averages are 14.1 points, 7.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals, while Parker's are 15.6, 5.4, 3.1 and 1.0.

  • In their conference semifinals faceoff last season, Parker averaged 20.8 points per game for the series, while Nash averaged 17.3.

  • Parker is a better defensive player. This season, starting point guard opponents are averaging 9.2 points per game against Parker, while they are averaging 10.3 against Nash.

  • Parker became the first foreign-born guard to be named to the All-Rookie First Team (2001-02) and led the French National Team to a bronze medal at the 2005 European Championship. Nash could only help Canada finish in seventh place at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and then failed to help his country qualify for the 2004 Olympics.

  • Parker is arguably the fastest player in the NBA, while Nash isn’t even the fastest on his team. Leandro Barbosa earns that honor.

  • Parker is just 25, while Nash is already 33. It is very possible that the Frenchman could ultimately win more titles than his teammate Robert Horry, who flashes a stunning seven rings.
  • Ever have someone say something so ridiculous while you were drinking that you ended up shooting juice out of your nose?

    No? I’m the only one, huh? Fine.

    Well, I had a mess to clean up at my desk after my colleague Josh Cohen blurted out, “You could argue that San Antonio’s Tony Parker is better than Phoenix’s Steve Nash.”

    Typing that just now made me laugh like Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. Josh, if you want to practice your comedy routine, go find another Guinea Pig. I’m not the one.

    Parker is an exceptional player. Heck, at times his life seems like something right out of a fairytale. He has been the point guard for a team that has won the NBA title every odd year since 2003, was named Finals MVP last season and this past summer he married actress Eva Longoria.

    Good for him. When it comes to choosing who the better baller is, give me Nash.

    Nash is headed straight to the Basketball Hall of Fame when his playing days are over and it won’t be as a visitor.

    He has spent the last three seasons running the prettiest offense in hoops and transformed his career from good to all-time great.

    Josh, I know you were probably a communications or English major in college, but let me teach you some quick mathematics.

    Nash is a five-time All-Star who has led the league in assists three straight years.

    He is a two-time MVP winner (2004-05 and 2005-06) and was the runner-up for the award last season. Think about it, legends Magic Johnson and Bob Cousy are the only other point guards to win the Maurice Podoloff Trophy besides Nash.

    His jump shot is money and seems to get even better when the outcome of the game is on the line. His passing abilities are unmatched (with the exception of New Jersey’s Jason Kidd) and he is one of the league’s smartest players (like having another coach on the floor).

    Sure he plays with a team full of former and current All-Stars like Grant Hill, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire in an up-tempo system that is tailor made for his abilities, but is that his fault?

    You wouldn’t get mad at a singer for winning a Grammy for a song they didn’t write so go ahead and give Stevie Wonderful his props.

    Now if only he could get a championship ring or two instead of simply making the Suns a perennial challenger for the NBA title, we wouldn’t even be having this debate.

    Time to respond to some of your e-mails.

    Poopsie in New York: I love reading your R2MVP articles but Richard Jefferson is fourth in points per game. How could you not have him in your top 10? Are you nuts?

    Brooks: I'm sure people in the local parks just love playing ball with you. You shoot a bunch and end up being the team's leading scorer in a loss. The Nets have dropped two straight and are a .500 team right now. And don't even get me started about the name Poopsie.

    Aldin in Austria: I'm from Bosnia, but go to law school in Austria. I don't study much recently because I've been busy watching the NBA all night long. I've been a big Allen Iverson fan since the Finals in 2001. Finally, someone gives the man the props he deserves. He'll end up in the top 3 of your rankings. Keep up the good work.

    Brooks: Even though the Lakers crushed us (Yes, I said us as if I were a member of the Sixers), when Iverson hit the shot over Tyronn Lue and then stepped over him, I screamed like the captain of the cheerleading team. As far as your comment about becoming an A.I. fan during the 2001 Finals, I always wondered how the bandwagon got filled up so quickly. Now I know. People like you.
    P.S. Don't blame the Association for your bad grades.

    Ant in California: Chris Kaman is ranked 20th. Hahaha.

    Brooks: When I was in Las Vegas in July, I was surprised to see Kaman working with the Clippers' Summer League team. It appears his hard work is paying off. He's averaging around 19 points and 14 rebounds and the Clippers are winning. I'm sure your hahaha's were for him being ranked that high. Truth be told, he probably deserves to be a little bit higher.

    Frank in Miami: Hey, I was just wondering what you thought about Udonis Haslem of the Heat? He's averaging a double-double and has the potential to put up numbers like Carlos Boozer.

    Brooks: When is the last time you were on the Internet or read a paper? Have you seen the standings? No member of the Heat is worthy of being listed in the R2MVP. I like Haslem, he plays hard, hustles and hits the glass, but Boozer has been arguably the best player in the league through the first few weeks.

    Pat in the Netherlands: After being a fan of your Race to the MVP column, I've decided to set up a formula to determine the MVP. I can't tell you the exact formula, but it takes the stats and team winning percentages into account. Here is my top 10 for the second week.
    1. Kevin Garnett
    2. Kobe Bryant
    3. Carlos Boozer
    4. Tracy McGrady
    5. Yao Ming
    6. LeBron James
    7. Dwight Howard
    8. Allen Iverson
    9. Chris Paul
    10. Carmelo Anthony

    Brooks: Isn't there some saying like "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"?

    Jeremy in Tennessee: I always learn something new about the NBA. This year I learned that just because a player isn't happy doesn't mean he won't be productive. This offseason, Kobe Bryant, Shawn Marion and Andrei Kirilenko all expressed their unhappiness with their teams and look how good they are all playing. Another lesson out there is that contract years don't always mean good years (sorry Gilbert).

    Brooks: Dr. Phil, is this you?

    Chaz in England: Where is the Raptors Chris Bosh?

    Brooks: Hmmm ... It's 4 a.m. ET right now, so it's a safe bet to say the big fella is sleeping. If you were wondering why he's not in the player rankings, CB4 has taken a step back this season. He's putting up just 16 points and almost seven boards and the Raptors are fighting to stay above .500.

    James in Sacramento: Kevin Martin of the Kings deserves a mention. He is one of the top scorers in the league.

    Brooks: Martin has done a great job trying to keep the Kings afloat while they play without Ron Artest and Mike Bibby. Still, at 2-6, no way should he be included in the R2MVP.

    Gabe in Texas: I think you have the wrong player from the Spurs ranked at No. 7.

    Brooks: Let me guess, you probably want me to show a little more love towards Manu Ginobili. Yeah, a case can be made to switch Ginobili, who is listed 17th and his superstar teammate, Tim Duncan. Despite coming off the bench, Ginobili is having his best season. He's putting up almost 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in just 28 minutes.

    Henry in Portland: I haven't been reading a lot about the terrific start the Blazers are having. You really should take a look at Brandon Roy.

    Brooks: I already did.

    Rob in Providence: K.G. welcome to prime time. After having a good cast once in Minny, the Mr. Do Everything can relax and actually enjoy smooth rhythm and flow in the game. You were a hero in Minnesota, but you'll be a legend in Boston. It's rare, but Boston bought the Big Ticket from a scalper asking an insane price and still got the better deal.

    Brooks: Clever e-mail. By the way, think back to when you played high school ball and the coach sent somebody to the scorer's table to sub in for you at the next dead ball. What did you do? A) You didn't foul cause you didn't want the refs to stop the game and B) you shot the ball every time you touched it because you were going to the bench anyways. I wrote all that to say, everybody in the top 20 had better get their shots up now, Paul Pierce is checking in Tuesday.