Suns Introduce Steve Nash
In one of the most significant moves in recent franchise history, the Phoenix Suns announced the signing of veteran point guard Steve Nash at a press conference at America West Arena on Wednesday afternoon. The following is the complete transcript of the media session, including remarks from Bryan and Jerry Colangelo, Mike D'Antoni, Nash's agent, Bill Duffy, and of course, the man of the hour, new Suns playmaker Steve Nash.
SUNS PRESIDENT BRYAN COLANGELO: I’d like to thank everyone for coming today. This is a terrific turnout and I think it’s indicative of the reaction that this signing and this announcement will have on our franchise, and the impact it will have on our franchise.
I’d also like to thank all the fans that are here and those tuning in live on Suns.com. I’d like to thank our business partners and sponsors that are here, our community leaders and also the staff that makes everything possible here. Of course, the press, as well.
I’d like to start by saying that when the floodgates of free agency opened up on July 1, we had one specific goal and one specific purpose. That purpose is sitting right next to me. We set out to address toughness and leadership on this team. We needed to have a mentor for a young group of players that we’re very excited about.
We talked about needing a point guard. We talked about someone teaching Leandro Barbosa, a young player that we have that’s learning the game. We talked about mental toughness and that’s something that Steve Nash brings to the table.
We set out with a goal and a purpose, and one focus. We didn’t waste a lot of time entertaining other alternatives. We made a phone call to Bill Duffy and Steve Nash immediately, at 9:01 p.m. on June 30th, July 1st on the east coast. It was important for us to zero in and feel like the approach was the right one. Steve Nash defined everything that we were looking to address on this team and our entire basketball staff quickly came to a consensus several months ago that we needed to get this done.
To make the announcement today that we have added, to borrow a football term, a true quarterback for this team, and a leader and a mentor. It just thrills all of us in the organization and I think you can say that with all the things that have gone on with this basketball program for the last couple of years, for me this is the most exciting. We know what the future holds for this team. We know the impact that this player will have on us. I can’t say enough about the character and the leadership, and the desire that Steve Nash will bring to this team.
There are a lot of things to be said. I’ll pass this over to Jerry, but I’d like to thank (Steve’s) mom and dad for being here today, and also Bill Duffy, Steve’s representative.
SUNS CHAIRMAN JERRY COLANGELO: Well, you just saw a (video) clip of a guy playing in short hair. It just goes to show you what happens when people leave Phoenix sometimes (laughs). So, the prodigal son returns.
I’m really excited about this. It seems like not that long ago when Steve came in to talk about his situation with us and our roster. He was playing behind a pretty good point guard (Jason Kidd) here in Phoenix and really was looking for an opportunity to be a starting point guard. He believed in himself and said, “I know that I can do this.”
There was an accommodation made and boy, did he do it. He went out and did a terrific job for Dallas. To bring him back, I think, is a tremendous move for this franchise and I couldn’t be happier to have you back, Steve.
SUNS GUARD STEVE NASH: Thank you. You guys were talking about me that whole time (laughs)?
I’d just like to say thank you very much to Bryan and Jerry, and the whole staff, and everyone that flew out to Dallas to recruit me. It felt very special to be wanted and to be loved. That was the main reason why I came back.
I left here (in 1998) somewhat begrudgingly, only because I loved the organization and the city. To be able to come back under these circumstances is just fantastic and I think it’s a perfect circle for me and my family, so thank you very much. We’re all extremely excited and I can’t wait to get with the guys.
SPORTS AGENT BILL DUFFY: I just want to say that I think the main reason Steve was able to come back was the relationship he had the first time he was here. It’s very rare for a player to be drafted and then return. Five, six years ago when Steve had emerged, Bryan and I had discussions about Steve, and whether he would stay here or go elsewhere. The way it was handled was in such a classy fashion that there was never any reluctance to return, so it’s a credit to you, Bryan, that this has come full circle.
I’m just real proud of this young man, how much he’s developed in his life and his career. in this community, you have a true champion. It wasn’t just everyone at the podium. Rex Chapman, Dave Griffin, Amaré Stoudemire, everybody got involved to make this happen.
I think you’ll be happy, not only with a great person, but now he’s come back a star. He’s going to lead this franchise to great heights.
BRYAN COLANGELO: I do want to say that prior to even putting on a uniform, Steve recorded his first assist last night. We were somewhat surprised when the (salary) cap number came in at $43.87 million, which is slightly greater than what it was last year. We were anticipating something, perhaps, as high as $45 million, maybe as high as $46 million. But, the negotiations between the union and the NBA obviously threw a curve at us once again.
You can date this back to the lockout year, where we had anticipated an amount of space and the number came in quite dramatically low. So, Steve did in fact get a haircut last night, it was just a monetary haircut (laughs). He certainly stepped up to the plate last night and provided us with an assist to enable us to sign yet another free agent that we’re releasing information on now, Quentin Richardson. Between the cooperation of Steve and Quentin, the situation worked out in everyone’s favor. Once again, I just wanted to say thank you to Steve for making this possible.
SUNS HEAD COACH MIKE D’ANTONI: There are very few players in the league that make other players better and make coaches smarter, and we’ve got one of them right now. We’re obviously extremely happy to have him and I’m looking forward to working with him to try to win a lot of basketball games. So, if you see my hair grows longer and I start doing this up there (fists his forehead like Richardson), things are going pretty good (laughs).
QUESTION: Steve, how long did it take you to decide to sign with the Suns?
NASH: Surprisingly, it didn’t take as long as you may have thought after six memorable years in Dallas. There were quite a few other options that would have presented themselves, but Bill and I talked, and my family and I talked, and we decided that if it wasn’t going to be Dallas, where I planned to go back to with those teammates that I’d grown so much with, Phoenix was the only place I wanted to go.
Once the situation presented itself and the opportunity to come back with everyone showing me as much interest as they did, it was a very impressively quick turn around. I never expected it to happen, period, let alone for it to happen in the matter of hours. It’s life changing, but I’m extremely excited and moving forward I couldn’t think of a better situation for myself and my family.
QUESTION: Could you describe that night that the recruiting process went down?
NASH: I was really nervous, to be honest. I’d formed some pretty special friendships with my teammates. We’d won a lot of games together and we’d grown a lot. we came in to Dallas relatively at the same time, speaking of Dirk (Nowitzki) and Michael Finley, and we were at the bottom. We took ourselves nearly to the top and to kind of turn my back on that with the job unfinished was very difficult, something that was totally unforeseen.
I wasn’t close-minded, but I’d never thought of any other alternative and I think that made me really nervous when I realized that there were other alternatives, and I might have to look into them.
It happened so quickly. I was nervous. These guys saw how nervous I was to leave my teammates. At the same time, I was overcome with the fact that they really wanted me and that makes up for the memories and your teammates, who you’ll always have. It made it the right place to be.
QUESTION: How did you look at this team when you played against them?
NASH: Not only because of Jerry and Bryan, and the relationship that we started eight years ago… The franchise from head to toe has always been well respected throughout the world of sports and this city is obviously is a terrific place to play, especially in the season that we play.
But, also looking at the team. That was a very important factor. Every time we played against this team, we saw a lot of potential and I think they put fear in us. They beat us a number of times, but more importantly we realized their potential and realized that with time, it was going to be a formidable nucleus. That was also a big factor in coming over.
Most important for me was to realize that there’s a great group of guys here. It’s a team sport and no matter how much money you make or how much fame or glory or accolades you can receive, it’s no fun if you’re on the bus or the plane, or at practice and you don’t enjoy the people you’re with. I realized I was coming here to a great group of guys and a group of guys that want to play for each other. It wouldn’t have worked it they weren’t such.
QUESTION: How did you feel about the comments made by the owner of the Mavericks after you agreed to the Suns’ contract?
NASH: I never really read or heard firsthand the comments, so I was only privy third party. It’s disappointing that things go on like that, but I think a lot of it is probably the story going through about four or five people and it ends up being a different story by the time it fell on my ears, and probably vice versa.
I’m not really going to worry about that too much or comment too much. Obviously, it’s unfortunate those things have to happen and everyone doesn’t just move on, but there’s an incredible fan base in Dallas who asked questions and it provoked some answers. Maybe the answers were convoluted after everything that had gone on.
For me, it’s over and I have no ill will or bad feelings. I have nothing but fantastic memories and I’m just excited to be here.
QUESTION: Did you get to visit much with new Suns owner Robert Sarver?
NASH: As much as could be expected. He was there with all these guys to come and recruit me in Dallas. That was great. I got to meet him first hand and get to know him a little bit in the short period of time. I think he’s going to have a tremendous impact. As a young man coming in to own a basketball team, he’s going to have a lot of enthusiasm.
QUESTION: What sort of things were said to you to make you feel special and wanted by the Suns’ organization?
NASH: Most importantly, they just thought that I would be a perfect fit for this team. For not only the general manager, the owner and the president to feel that way, but most importantly, for the coach and for Amaré to feel that way. When Mike and Amaré spoke to me, they made me feel as though I would be a perfect fit for this team, and I could have a huge impact on the guys. That gave me instant goals and an instant sense of wanting to continue to improve and wanting to continue to help this organization to grow. That was very exciting for me.
QUESTION: Do you see the situation now with the Suns as being similar to the situation in Dallas when you joined the Mavericks?
NASH: It is a similar situation in some respect, but I think it’s different. When we were at the bottom in Dallas, we weren’t really sure where we could get to. We didn’t know if we could climb out of the bottom or what our potential was. We just hoped and went for it.
There are pieces in place here that the potential is somewhat more foreseen. At that time, we didn’t know if we were going to be a playoff team or a contender or what. I think this team is definitely going to be a playoff team and from there, the potential is limitless. The first step is sometimes the most important one to get the team rolling and to get confidence. I think the mindset is really the indicator of success in this league.
There are some similarities, but this is a tremendous situation and one of it’s own.
QUESTION: Do you enjoy challenges like this?
NASH: Yeah, it would be pretty boring if we didn’t have challenges, so this is something to cure that boredom for a few years now.
QUESTION: Do you see yourself playing the same role here as you did in Dallas?
NASH: I plan to play exactly the same way. If you can be yourself, you’re on the way. I’m just going to try to be myself. I only know how to play one way. Hopefully, I’ll continue to improve, and I’ll learn to play and adapt to different styles and play. But I think they brought me here to be myself and that’s when I’m at my best.
I’ve only missed four games in three years, including a lot of playoff games and preseason games, and two of them were with the flu. So, I’m not really too worried about my body. I love to work out. I love to improve, so I think I’ll be fine.
SUNS SCOUT REX CHAPMAN: Are those golf shoes you’re wearing to your press conference?
NASH: Absolutely. That's a good one (laughs). Super duper.