Steve Nash is to Canada as gin and tonics are to Friday night. Beloved, treasured, pivotal, integral to fiber of being, the essence of, etc. So when Canada recently failed in the FIBA World Championships, concerns were raised on exactly why they sucked so badly; not advancing out of pool play and losing to those cheese-eating surrender monkeys (sans Mr. Longoria).
However this being Canada the concerns were raised politely and then only after a vigorous hike and consumption of a case of Moosehead. But sports fans are sports fans and head coach Leo Rautins is on the hot seat, also on the hot seat is the Canada government who didn't fast-track Matt Bonner's citizenship*, then they raised Steve Nash questions....
Yes, he has chronic physical issues, as do many other veteran players who pull on the jerseys for their country at international events.
And, yes, he only has a few good years left in the NBA and wants to maximize his abilities in that regard. But, again, the same can be said for other, particularly European, veterans who play in the NBA.
It's not like he spent the entire summer lying on his sore back. He travelled to South Africa this summer to blog about the World Cup. He travelled to China.He played soccer. He played basketball. And he trained.
Believe me, he trained, probably just as hard, if not harder, than he would of had he devoted a few weeks to Team Canada.
Now, and this is dangerous territory we're wading in here (because basketball people absolutely hate when hockey is mentioned when discussing hoops) but am I wrong, or is it always expected that Canada's top hockey players -- even if they're older and a little banged up -- answer the call for all the major tournaments?
And when they don't, are they not crucified in the media and by the great unwashed? Remember the beating Hall of Fame defenceman Ray Bourque took when he elected not to play at the 1991 Canada Cup, despite the fact that he played for Canada numerous times before?
But hardly anyone talks about Nash and the fact that the 2000 Olympic Games hero refuses to play for Canada now, even though he's still a great player.
First off, Steve Nash is playing for his legacy at this point and I get it that playing for the National Hockey team in Canada will cement your legacy; but leading Canada Basketball to a 3-2 record in pool play and a early round of sixteen exit doesn't do much for his legacy at this point.
Really Canada, you've already crowned him Olympic torch-lighter mitten-worthy, I'm pretty sure he's confident of his favored son status. As a Suns fan I hardily support Steve's non-playing and encourage Canada gaze at their Olympic Hockey gold medal and be content.
* Dear Canada Basketball, I'm sorry about Matt Bonner being your next-best hope behind Steve Nash.