During the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament here in Manila last July, I got a chance to interview one of the greatest point guards to grace the NBA: Steve Nash.
He flew in along with the Canadian national team and Sports Illustrated Philippines was fortunate enough to get a few minutes with the former two-time MVP.
Nash was comfortable to talk to and really took the time to answer all our questions with depth. He was a kind guy, too — he signed numerous autographs and took photos with people.
My interview with him, I would say, was one of the best interviews I’ve done in my whole sportswriting career.
Here are snippets from that interview, which was originally posted on Sports Illustrated Philippines.
JC: Obviously you were successful with the Phoenix Suns. Would you say you had most fun in the NBA there?
Steve Nash: Yeah, I mean I had a great time playing in Dallas as well, formed a great relationship with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley. We had a lot of success, from taking one of the worst teams in the league to the conference finals. But I think my best years were in Phoenix. I was there eight years, eight successful years. I think I took my game there to another level.
JC: If you were still playing in the NBA today and you ran that “7 seconds or less” offense, do you think you’d win a championship?
Steve Nash: Well, I think it’s possible. I don’t love comparing generations or eras because I think everything’s different. I think Golden State’s a fantastic team but we played a similar style that they have, in some ways, emulated. But we had our chances. We had some bad bounces, we were unfortunate a couple of times, but we were also outplayed some times. That’s what’s great about sports — you put it all on the line and win or lose, you live with the results.
JC: You’re more of passing guard, Do you think passing is more of an innate thing than shooting, which you can continue to get better at?
Steve Nash: I think passing and shooting can be innate, but I think you can develop shooting a little bit easier than you can passing. I think there’s such a technique to shooting that you can replicate, but passing is something that’s very cerebral and imaginative. You’re reading and reacting to certain things that can be taught, but it’s easier to teach shooting in some respect than it is to teach reading the game and passing the ball.
JC: Today’s NBA is all about the guards. You have Steph Curry, [Damian] Lillard, [Kyle] Lowry and Chris Paul. For you personally, what’s the meaning of a true point guard?
Steve Nash: I think a true point guard is a very traditional term. A true point guard is someone that runs his team, manages his team, leads his team and I think traditionally it was through passing and playmaking. But nowadays we have so many point guards that are so adept at scoring the ball that it’s become more of a scoring position. But that’s fine, that’s the evolution of the game — at least this part of the cycle of its evolution and we’re seeing some tremendous point guards even if they’re not necessarily pass-first as the traditional term would be considered.
JC: Throughout your NBA career, you’ve had your share of ups and downs. What has basketball, or sports in general, taught you about yourself?
Steve Nash: I think it’s taught me that everything that’s hard work and difficult and a challenge is worthwhile. It offers you so much. Win or lose, when you dedicate yourself to something you have great reward. For me, it’s taught me that anything’s possible. You can work and work and work and have dreams and goals, and fight for them every day. Whether you attain them or not, it’s a wonderful way to live your life.