Originally Published: Sept./Oct. 1996
On the night before this year’s NBA Draft, a sportscaster from New York One was speaking with Steve Nash. The live broadcast was going well from the studio in Manhattan, as Nash discussed growing up in Canada and the “non-recruiting process” in selecting Santa Clara for college and the feelings he was having with less than 24 hours before selection. Not surprisingly, when asked if he had a preference as to where he would be taken, he answered that he’d be happy to be taken by any of the 29 clubs that make up the best basketball league in the world.
“You hear different things about where guys will end up, and one of the particularly big rumors floating around is that you might end up with the Suns,” said the anchor, Kevin Garrity. “And what our viewers may not know about you is that you starred at the Desert Classic in Phoenix a few weeks ago, right?” “I had a good time out there and I played pretty well,” replied Nash, looking dapper in an outfit made specifically for him by Perry Ellis. “I’d love to go there, but you don’t know where you’re going to go. You can’t control it so you can’t really worry about it. I’ve heard stories that have me headed to so many different places, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
At approximately 9:00 PM Wednesday night at Continental Arena in New Jersey, the waiting was over and Nash was seeing how good a Suns camp felt on his head. His first act as a Sun was actually shaking the hand of commissioner David Stern, and the next few minutes allowed him to show his point guard skills at weaving through traffic. Walk to interview with TNT. Scoot over to an interview with NBA Radio. Step over here to an interview with an additional in-house broadcast. Follow a league official and step over there behind those curtains to answer some on-line radio questions from fans on nba.com. And this was before the print, radio and television reporters even got a hold of him! No wonder he slumped into a chair ten minutes after hearing his name for the first time as a pro and joked, “Man, nobody told me the NBA would be this hard!”
“I know you’ve probably heard a million guys say this already, but it really is a dream come true for me,” he continued after a deep breath. “I know a lot of people may not know my name all that well, but I’m excited for the opportunity to prove myself at this level. This whole thing is just beyond words. It’s such a roller coaster of emotions. I was kind of tense when I got on the bus with all the other guys to come here and then, we just kidded around and I was a little more relaxed. But then you come here and there’s so much anticipation and your mind goes in all these different directions. When that camera guy finally came over to me and I knew I was going to get selected by the Suns, I was just thrilled.”
The Suns were thrilled by the performance Nash put on at the America West Arena in April. He shot the ball well and averaged a tournament-high eight assists against other future pros. His coach, K.C. Jones, called him a natural leader and his name was being brought up with those of other leaders like Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury. Talk about a point making a point.
“Those guys deserved all the hype and publicity they got because they played at the big-name schools and did their jobs extremely well, but I knew that I showed a lot out there,” said Nash, when asked by one reporter to talk about the Desert Classic’s impact on his draft standing compared to the higher profile players from Georgetown and Georgia Tech. “Before I went to Phoenix, there were questions. Could I play with these guys? Then I went and did the job, got named to the all-tournament team and I showed everyone that I was a legitimate player. It’s a bit ironic, almost spooky in a way, with me now being with the Suns and all, but now, I’ll go out and try to prove myself all over again.”
As the crowd of reporters started to disperse looking for more stories, an NBA official standing nearby with a cellular telephone in his left hand, asked “Any more questions?” With no responses, the official handed the phone to Nash and whispered to him, “Here’s another one. It’s one of the local radio stations in Phoenix, KGME.”
Nash took the phone. “Hey, thanks for having me on the show,” he said. “Things have worked out just great. The Suns are a terrific organization...”