3. STEVE NASH
He is 38 years old and second in the league in dimes with 11.1 a night. And even on his 16th year as a pro, it somehow doesn’t get old to watch.
As the NBA dawns on a point guard renaissance with younger cats dominating the highlight reels, it’s Steve Nash who’s quietly not letting the Suns set into the abyss. Their playoff hopes rest entirely on their leader that doesn’t draw attention to himself nor the outside noise others have on his future.
Nash is having a super efficient season. Although he is only scoring on a 12.8 daily clip, he is tops amongst point guards in true shooting percentage (63 percent), tops in assist ratio (45 percent), and tied for sixth in PER (21.24), based on ESPN’s John Hollinger’s stats. It is this singular focus on the task at hand that’ll make him a great owner.
Scratch that. Nash is already a principal owner for a professional sports franchise, MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps. He’s known as an avid soccer fan having grown up playing the sport as a kid. For the past few years, Nash has hosted a charity summer soccer pick-up game in NYC dubbed “Showdown in Chinatown.” These matches have been held at the L.E.S’ Sara D. Roosevelt Park and grew such huge interest in the city last summer they netted a presenting sponsor, Osboro.com, and it streamed live online. Seeing the immediate success of this grassroots event, one can only expect Nash will play an integral part on his Whitecaps squad.
“I’d like to be connected in different ways. I’d like to have my hand in the structure of the athletic side of the club, the development of the players, their fitness and training, the culture of the club — I think those are the areas of the club where I could lend my professional expertise. I want to add value there and whatever else I can but, for the most part, I’m just going to be a superfan. I want to cheer for my local team and be there to support our club with our local community,” said Nash in an interview with MLSsoccer.com.
Like Nash setting up and controlling a pick-and-roll, he knows when it’s better to dish to the roll man and when he should look to pull-up for a shot. His innate ability to read defenses in this scenario is the same approach he’ll look to implement as the owner of the Whitecaps. Sometimes an owner is best-served to stay on the sidelines and root for his team than to meddle too much on what’s transpiring on the court and off. Nash understands his role as a player and how much energy he should exert to impact the outcome of the game. Thus, he won’t have a problem providing his input as a pro athlete and simply serve as a cross between Mark Cuban and Clipper Darrell. This balance of the two roles is what adds credibility to how Nash bestows as an owner.
When asked about the underlying reason why two NBA teams have relocated from the Pacific Northwest, Nash replied: “I think the NBA left Vancouver and Seattle unnecessarily. They had great support in Vancouver, regardless of reports. It was difficult at times with sponsorship because the Canadian dollar wasn’t that strong back then, but we had an owner come in and realize he could make a lot of money by buying the team and moving it to Memphis. So the league can pin that on the city. And Seattle — it was the arena. Their lease agreement was not good and they couldn’t get a new one built. They’re an unbelievable sports town with great fan support but it was just another deal where another owner came in and decided that I could be more profitable in another city. That’s just what happens.”
Nash’s astute knowledge of how to break down defenses and the business dynamics behind pro sports are unique. David Stern has mentioned on a Bill Simmons podcast that his biggest regret during his tenure as commissioner was leaving the Vancouver market. He should pay close attention to not only whether Nash can rally the Suns for one final playoff run, but the success of his MLS Whitecaps.
“Vancouver’s dying to have another NBA team,” said Nash. He should ultimately be the one runnin’ and gunnin’ the return of pro hoops to his hometown in seven seconds or less.