Nash on Dragic's Rise: 'He Deserves All the Credit'

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by Matt Petersen

As a Slovenian reporter took the lead in a recent media huddle, Steve Nash answered each question with an expression and tone of seriousness. The topics included the preparation of the Canadian team, his own role with the program, and the offseason activities of the Los Angeles Lakers.

One question, hwoever, brought out a smile and warmth that cracked what had been a business-like façade.

“You were a mentor of Goran Dragic with the Phoenix Suns,” the reporter began. “What can you say about how he improved last year?”

Of course, Nash knew the question would come in some form. The former Suns star has been in Dragic’s native Slovenia over the past few days, where the current Phoenix guard holds a near-rock star status, especially after his showing in last summer for the host nation in EuroBasket 2013. Nash, the general manager of the Canadian national team, was there to oversee his growing program in action against Slovenia.

The former mentor and pupil have used their coinciding schedules and duties to catch up off the court, where their friendship and history can take precedence over their NBA roles as Phoenix Sun and Los Angeles Laker.

In such a laid-back setting, Nash didn’t find it difficult to praise the once-shy, now-assertive Dragic.

“I can’t take any credit for his success,” Nash said. “He deserves all the credit. He’s a great player and he’s one of my favorite players to watch. He’s very very competitive and his skill levels continue to get better. I’m just really proud of him. He’s one of the top guards in the game, now. I hope I get to watch him for a long time.”

Of course, Dragic’s home reporters needed to know if Nash felt their country’s NBA ambassador had been slighted when he his play was not rewarded with an All-Star berth last season.

Nash responded that Dragic had, in his opinion, received a better honor in the end.

“He had an All-Star season, so he deserved to be there,” Nash admitted. “In the West, there’s so many good guards. Sometimes you don’t make it when you deserve to. He was an All-Star [quality player] this year, but it says more to be a third-team All-NBA player than to be an All-Star.”