This MVP is an Unbelievable Story
Posted: May 8, 2005
Question for Steve Nash at his MVP press conference: “Steve, as you look down the list of players who have won this award and see your name on it, what goes through your mind?
Answer from Steve: “Which name doesn’t belong on this list?"
It was a funny line and got a nice laugh, but a funny line is ALL it was. Because trust me, Steve Nash definitely belongs on that list with the likes of Jordan, Bird, Magic and Barkley. A strong case could even be made for the proposition that he is the best MVP story ever! In fact, it’s more like an open and shut case.
Think about it. All the others were blue chippers earmarked for stardom almost from the first day they picked up a basketball. They were, so to speak, to the hoop manor born. But Steve Nash grew up in a country that didn’t even speak basketball as a second language. And he didn’t grow nearly as far up as most of his fellow MVPs. So basically what we have here is a kid who attracted almost zero attention from high school scouts, let alone college and pro scouts.
But he keeps plugging away in his small Canadian hometown, hoping that SOMEBODY, anybody, in fact, would notice him. As it turns out it was a nobody, an obscure assistant coach at Santa Clara, which has never been confused with the UCLAs, Dukes, and North Carolinas of college hoops, that took note. On the basis of that assistant’s report, the kid is given a scholarship to the school, and eventually attracts enough notice that he is chosen in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Suns, although not with the usual fanfare that goes with the No. 15 pick in that round.
The Suns basically saw him as a guy who would make a nice backup point guard, who would find other ways to contribute because of his hoop smarts and work ethic. They didn’t really fall in love with the kid until after they drafted him, but when they did they fell hard and realized he definitely had starter stuff in him, and then some. Problem was the Suns already had two powerhouse guards in Kevin Johnson and Jason Kidd -- not to mention Sam Cassell for a short time that '96-97 season -- and reluctantly acceded to the kid’s wish that he either be traded someplace where he could start and dealt him to Dallas.
They eventually fell in love with him in Dallas, too, but Phoenix had never really stopped carrying the torch for him, and last season their situation had changed. Back in the old days, much as they loved him, Nash wasn’t what the Suns needed. Following their 29-53 run of a year ago -- make that crawl -- he was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. Suddenly the kid that once nobody had much wanted found himself courted by the kind of delegation usually associated with a head of state. The Suns sent CEO Jerry Colangelo, rookie owner Robert Sarver, coach Mike D’Antoni and powerful forward Amare Stoudemire to "Big D" to woo him.
Now Nash had the perfect team to fit his talents, and vice versa, and the rest is history that his still being written at this moment. Best of all, none of this has changed him. He’s still the same quiet, egoless, team-oriented, boyishly engaging player he was back when he started his highly improbable journey to fame and fortune. Inevitably, some of the trappings of a star now adorn him, but they have been thrust upon him, not sought by him. And when he tells you he wouldn’t be where he is without his teammates, who he invited up on stage with him during Sunday's press conference, he means exactly that.
In an era when many people rightly or wrongly perceive the NBA as a collection of spoiled, overpaid, me-firstersm, Steve Nash is exactly what the league needs, not just for his highly entertaining style of play but his unselfishness and the obvious respect he has for the game. You could go so far to say that If there weren’t a Steve Nash at this point, the NBA would be trying very hard to invent one.
As for his accomplishments, it could be argued he is the first true point guard to win the MVP since Bob Cousy won it nearly half a century ago. Take a look at the others. Magic and Oscar were mooses (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But Nash, with his uncanny penetrating/passing skills and ability to bend defenses hopelessly out of shape, is pure point guard -- a conductor in every sense of the word. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that he is conducting the finest symphony in the NBA today – as he will be the first to tell you.
The bottom line: This has been a magical season for the Suns, and Nash’s MVP selection is the culmination of a fairy tale that would have been rejected as too unbelievable if you tried to submit it as a movie or TV script.