A Nash-onal Observation

With the last few days having been a strange mix of Nash bashing and lamenting for not playing for Team Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship, Can Ball Ray puts his two cents in on the whole debate.  Find out what he thought right here ...

 

 

If you’ve been keeping up with the basketball world that is Canadian, or if you’ve been reading the recent Canadian Content entries the last few days, you should already be aware that there seems to be some dust kicking with regards to Steve Nash.  

The media in this country have been on what can only be described as a witch hunt and with the degrees varying from mildly annoyed at Nash’s decision not to participate in the National Program this summer to downright Spanish Inquisition-esque verbal assaults for deciding against it.  I haven’t really seen a big deal made about something like this for basketball in this country since, well, ever and it seems to have got people divided on some very rigid lines. 

Is Nash a sellout and traitor for not playing on this summer’s edition of the Senior Men’s National Team?  Or is he greedy and selfish bastard for thinking of himself, his family and the remaining years of his career first?  Or is he a saint who has devoted over a decade of service to a National Program that he has retired from after propelling it to new heights with his involvement? 

The many questions that have lingered in the air for the last few days have been very direct and all fingers have been pointing in one direction or another but they have all inevitably pointed to the same person:  Mr. Nash. 

I know that Steve is THE elite level basketball player in Canada at this point in time.  And I also know that he plays a position that would have greatly benefitted from his appearance.  But in spite of all of this, can we fault a man for deciding not to play for the National Team?  Can we really decide that this man is the reason for the lack of success that the National Program had this summer?

In my opinion, I don’t think he can be.  I mean really, how can he?  It doesn’t make sense and it’s not fair. 

People seem to forget that Nash is only human despite the superhuman effort he puts into his game that most people only get to see on TV.  Yes he’s done some things that would exceed what would seem humanly possible but it doesn’t mean that he is anymore of a person than you or I.  To put the blame on a single person for this summer’s performance of the Senior Men’s team is ridiculous. 

Now, I’ve always maintained a few particular things whenever anyone brought up Steve Nash to me in conversations about the National Team:  First that he has explicitly said he was not going to participate and two, whether he has the ability to or not to lift the team from three wins to more, he has the right to refuse to play.  These two things should be abundantly clear to everyone involved in any discussion regarding this. 

Does it suck that Nash didn’t play, of course.  It also sucks that Tristan Thompson, Matt Bonner, Myck Kabongo, Kris Joseph, Rob Sacre, Andrew Nicholson and a whole slew of other players didn’t either.  But it seems convenient that these aforementioned players have excusable excuses for those who’ve been on Nash’s case.  It’s excusable Kabongo, Joseph, Sacre, Nicholson and the other "elite" players are in school and have school commitments.  It is excusable that Thompson decided to go back to school and work on his degree rather than play for the SMNT.  It’s even excusable that Bonner is fighting government red tape to get his Canadian citizenship.  For the most part, these are all reasonable explanations and very good ones at that so these particular players are left out of the blame game here.  All would have strengthened the SMNT across the board undoubtedly.  But after these players have accounted for who do we have left:  Mr. Nash.

I understand the hurt that many basketball fans, like me, had when we had all found out that London in 2012 was not calling.  That loss to Panama was a tough one to take especially since the SMNT looked really good to make that fifth place spot and punch a ticket to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer.  All those strides that Canada Basketball had made in the last few years seemed to have been for naught and it was another wasted attempt to get back into the upper echelon of the global basketball scene.  Many players on the team were playing hurt and eventually the grind of the tournament took its toll.  Injuries mounted and effectiveness took a hit.  Yet, the blame seems to be squarely placed on Nash regardless. 

People think that I’ve been giving Nash a free pass due to his past years playing for the National Program and if they do than so be it.  I’m not going to apologize for it because he’s put time in and really doesn’t owe me, the program or anyone else any further commitment to play, period.  I’m of the ilk that believes that your word is your bond and in this case, he said he wasn’t going to play.  I’m fine with that.  I’m fine that the Senior Men, those who did play, gave a valiant effort with against a stacked deck of hardwood cards and hung close with some of the better teams in the Americas with what some observers (some of whom may have written or voiced these angry pieces or statements) was nothing more than a team of role players.  I’m okay with the fact that people seem to be missing more important issues with the team, the National Program, the non-participation of players and another stacked deck against the sport I'm passionate about in a country that only seems to have media conveniently cover things when they are really good or really bad.  I may not like it but I can accept all of it.

What I refuse to accept is a ridiculous amount of Nash bashing for his decision to not play. 

Just because a female is pregnant doesn’t mean that she has to keep her baby.  She has options to relieve herself of that child such as adoption or abortion (sorry pro lifers).    This may seem like an extreme analogy but is it really?  You would think that Nash not playing for Canada was akin to him having aborted any chance of the team going to the Olympics, which is ludicrous.   

Steve made his choice and stuck by it.  He had cited his reasons.  He may have done other things in time that could have been with the National Team but that was his choice.  All of you who have been riding him for it need to get off the haterade and leave it alone. 

All this energy should be focused on the next move to get this National Program back on track over the next year instead of lamenting why a 37 year old point guard decided it was more important to spend time with his young children, do charity work, enjoy a little of his soccer investment and grow his business and recover and rest his body for his employment time whenever that may be over this last summer.  People want to be left alone when the are entitled to some time off, why should Nash be treated any differently Steve Nash.   

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