|Nash speaking at the 2018 Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony.|
|Born||February 7, 1974|
|Johannesburg, South Africa|
|Listed height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Listed weight||178 lbs (81 kg)|
|No. 13, 10|
|High school||St. Micheal's |
|College||Santa Clara (1992-1996)|
|NBA Draft||1996 / Round: 1 / Pick: 15th|
|Selected by the Phoenix Suns|
|Playing career||1996–2015 (19 years)|
|Career highlights and awards|
Stephen John Nash (born February 7, 1974) is a Canadian retired professional basketball player and head coach who is currently the Head coach for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and a senior advisor of the Canadian men's national team.
As a player, he played 18 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was an eight-time NBA All-Star and a seven-time All-NBA selection. Twice, Nash was named the NBA Most Valuable Player while playing for the Phoenix Suns.
After a successful high school basketball career in British Columbia, Nash earned a scholarship to Santa Clara University in California. In his four seasons with the Broncos, the team made three NCAA Tournament appearances, and he was twice named the West Coast Conference (WCC) Player of the Year. Nash graduated from Santa Clara as the team's all-time leader in assists and was taken as the 15th pick in the 1996 NBA draft by the Phoenix Suns. He made minimal impact and was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. By his fourth season with the Mavericks, he was voted to his first NBA All-Star Game and had earned his first All-NBA selection. Together with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, Nash led the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals the following season. He became a free agent after the 2003–04 season and returned to the Phoenix Suns.
In the 2004–05 season, Nash led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals and was named the league's MVP. He was named MVP again in the 2005–06 season and was runner-up for a third consecutive MVP to Nowitzki in 2006–07. Named by ESPN in 2006 as the ninth-greatest point guard of all time, Nash led the league in assists and free throw percentage at various points in his career. He is also ranked as one of the top players in NBA league history in three-point shooting, free throw shooting, total assists, and assists per game.
Nash has been honoured for his contributions to various philanthropic causes. In 2006, he was named by Time as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2007 and invested to the order in 2016, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University of Victoria in 2008. Nash has been a co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) since the team entered the league in 2011. From 2012 to 2019, he served as general manager of the Canadian men's national team, for whom he played from 1991 to 2003, making one Olympic appearance and being twice named FIBA AmeriCup MVP.
Stephen Nash was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to a Welsh mother and English father on February 7, 1974. His family moved to Regina, Saskatchewan, when he was 18 months old, and then again to Vancouver, before finally settling in Victoria, British Columbia. Although Nash played both soccer and ice hockey, he did not start playing basketball until he was 12 or 13. However, in eighth grade, he told his mother that one day he would play in the NBA and become a star.
Nash originally attended Mount Douglas Secondary School, but after his grades began to drop, his parents decided to enroll him at St. Michaels University School, a private boarding school. At St. Michaels, he starred in basketball, soccer, and rugby union. While playing basketball during his senior season, Nash almost averaged a triple-double with 21.3 points, 11.2 assists, and 9.1 rebounds per game. In the 1991–92 season, he led his team in his final year to the British Columbia AAA provincial championship title, and was named the province's player of the year.
Although Nash's high school coach, Ian Hyde-Lay, sent letters of inquiry and highlight reels on Nash's behalf to over 30 American universities, Nash was not recruited by any university, until Santa Clara University head coach Dick Davey requested video footage of the young guard. After watching Nash in person, Davey said he "was nervous as hell just hoping that no one else would see him. It didn't take a Nobel Prize winner to figure out this guy's pretty good. It was just a case of hoping that none of the big names came around." However, Davey told Nash that Nash was "the worst defensive player" he had ever seen.
Nash was awarded a scholarship by Santa Clara for the 1992–93 season. At that time, it had been five years since the Broncos appeared in the NCAA tournament. That changed when Nash led the Broncos to a West Coast Conference (WCC) title and an upset win over the No. 2 seeded Arizona Wildcats in the first round of the 1993 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. In that game, Nash scored six straight free throws in the last 30 seconds of the contest. Although Santa Clara was defeated by Temple University in the next round, the 1992–93 campaign was considered a successful one. However, the Broncos failed to sustain the momentum the following season, and only managed a 5–7 record in the conference. The team rebounded in 1994–95, with Nash being named Conference Player of the Year and the Broncos topping the WCC. Featuring the league leader for scoring and assists in Nash, the Broncos returned to the NCAA tournament, but they were defeated by Mississippi State University. After the season, Nash contemplated turning professional, but decided against it when he learned that he would probably not be considered a first-round pick in the 1995 NBA Draft.
In the 1995–96 season, Nash began attracting the attention of the national media and professional scouts. He had spent the summer before that honing his skills, playing with the Canada national basketball team and working out with the likes of established NBA players Jason Kidd and Gary Payton. Santa Clara again captured the WCC title, and for the second consecutive year, Nash was named Conference Player of the Year, the first Bronco to do so since Kurt Rambis. The Broncos were eliminated by Kansas University in the NCAA tournament, but Nash's performances ensured that he was named Honorable Mention All-America as a senior by The Associated Press and the USBWA. He also finished his career as Santa Clara's all-time leader in career assists (510), free-throw percentage (.862), and made and attempted three-pointers (263–656). He remains third on the school's all-time scoring list (1,689), and holds Santa Clara's single-season free-throw percentage record (.894). In September 2006, Nash had his jersey (#11) retired, becoming the first Santa Clara student-athlete to receive that honour.
First stint in Phoenix
After graduating with a degree in sociology, Nash was selected 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft. Upon hearing the draft announcement, Suns fans booed in disapproval of the relatively unknown player. This was because despite his impressive college accomplishments, Nash had not played in one of the major college conferences. During his first two seasons in the NBA, Nash played a supporting role behind NBA star point guards Kevin Johnson, Sam Cassell, and later, Jason Kidd. In his rookie season, he only managed 10.5 minutes a game, but in his second season, his playing time increased significantly and he was even ranked 13th in the league for three-point field-goal percentage. Nevertheless, the Canadian's tenure with the Suns was not to last. While at Santa Clara, Nash had met and befriended Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Donnie Nelson, who worked for the Golden State Warriors at that time. After moving to Dallas, Nelson was able to convince his father, Don Nelson—then the Mavericks coach and general manager—to acquire the under-utilized Nash. Following the 1998 NBA Draft, Nash was traded from the Suns to the Mavericks in exchange for Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells, the draft rights to Pat Garrity and a first-round draft pick.
It was in Dallas that Nash established himself as one of the best point guards in the NBA. During his first year as a Maverick (the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season) he started in all 40 games he played in, and averaged 7.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game. The Mavericks failed to make the playoffs but in the 1999–2000 season, the team's prospects improved considerably. Nash missed 25 mid-season games due to an ankle injury, but came back to record six double-doubles in the last month of play. He finished the season with averages of 8.6 points and 4.9 assists per game. More importantly for the team, second-year teammate and friend Dirk Nowitzki was blossoming quickly into a top player, veteran Michael Finley was having an All-Star-calibre year, and the team's new owner, billionaire Mark Cuban, was bringing new energy and excitement to the franchise. Nash now had a supportive environment in which he could thrive.
In the 2000–01 season, Nash averaged 15.6 points and 7.3 assists per game in a breakout season. With Nash directing the team's offence, Nowitzki and Finley playing at their best, and the acquisition of All-Star Juwan Howard complementing the high-scoring trio, the Mavericks earned a playoff berth for the first time in more than a decade. Dallas lost in the Western Conference Semifinals four games to one to the San Antonio Spurs, but it marked the beginning of a memorable run for Nash and the Mavericks. In the 2001–02 season, Nash posted career-highs of 17.9 points and 7.7 assists per game and earned a spot in the NBA All-Star Game and on the All-NBA Third Team. He was now an All-Star, increasingly appearing in television commercials and, with Finley and Nowitzki, a part of the Dallas Mavericks "Big Three." Dallas earned another trip to the playoffs but lost again in the Semifinals to the Sacramento Kings four games to one.
Nash closely replicated his previous season's performance in the 2002–03 season, averaging 17.7 points and 7.3 assists per game, again earning All-Star and All-NBA Third Team honours. Nowitzki and Nash led the Mavericks from a 14-game winning streak to open the season all the way to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost to the eventual NBA champions, the San Antonio Spurs four games to two. It was only the second Conference Finals appearance in the franchise's history. The 2003–04 season saw an offensively boosted Mavericks roster (with the acquisitions of Antoine Walker and Antawn Jamison) but a dip in Nash's scoring contributions. As a result he was not selected for the All-Star and All-NBA team rosters even though he achieved new career highs in assists per game (8.8) and free-throw accuracy (91.6%). In the playoffs, the fifth-seeded Dallas failed to make progress yet again as the Sacramento Kings saw them off four games to one.
After the 2003–04 season, Nash became a free agent and attempted to negotiate a long-term contract with Cuban. Cuban wanted to build his franchise around the younger Nowitzki and did not want to risk signing the aging Nash to a long-term deal, and offered Nash a four-year deal worth about $9 million annually, with a fifth year partially guaranteed. The Phoenix Suns on the other hand offered the point guard a six-year, $63 million contract. Nash was reluctant to leave Dallas and returned to Cuban to see if he would match the deal; Cuban did not, and Nash signed for the Suns for 2004–05 season. The Canadian would go on to win two League MVP awards with Phoenix, and on a 14 June 2006 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, Cuban wondered out loud, "... you know Steve's a great guy and I love him to death, but why couldn't he play like an MVP for us?"
Return to Phoenix
Nash joined a Suns team which had emerging young players in Shawn Marion, Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire. In the season before Nash arrived, the Suns had recorded a 29–53 win–loss record, and they were projected to have another poor season. Head coach Mike D'Antoni favoured an up-tempo style of basketball; this required smaller and more athletic players with the capability to outrun and outshoot their opponents. Nash's familiarity with this style combined with the athleticism of his teammates produced an NBA-best 62–20 record and a points-per-game average of 110.4, the highest in a decade. The catalyst of this turnaround, Nash averaged 11.5 assists per game while making 50.2% of his field goals and 43.1% of his three-pointers in the regular season. He edged Shaquille O'Neal to win the 2004–05 NBA MVP award, becoming the first Canadian to earn the honour, as well as the third point guard ever to be named MVP, along with Magic Johnson and Bob Cousy. In the playoffs, Phoenix swept the Memphis Grizzlies in four games before meeting the Dallas Mavericks in the second round. Nash led the Suns to a 4–2 series win, and the Suns reached the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1993, but lost to the eventual NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs, in five games.
The next season, Stoudemire suffered a serious knee injury, and Johnson and Quentin Richardson were traded away. The Suns were not expected to repeat their successful 2005 season, but with Nash directing the same high-tempo offence, the team compiled a respectable 54–28 record and won the division title. The Suns were again the highest-scoring team in the league with seven players averaging double figures in points per game, and Nash was voted for the first time to start for the 2006 Western All-Star team. Having recorded career highs in points (18.8), rebounds (4.2), field goal percentage (.512) and free-throw percentage (a league-leading .921), and leading the league with 10.5 assists per game, Nash was named the league MVP for the second year in a row. In the first round of the playoffs, Phoenix overcame a 3–1 deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers and won the series 4–3. The Los Angeles Clippers were their Conference Semifinals opponents, and the Suns again needed seven games to clinch the series. For the second year in a row however, the Suns bowed out in the Conference Finals, this time to Nash's former team, Dallas.
In the 2006–07 season, Nash had another stellar campaign, averaging 18.6 points and a career-high 11.6 assists per game while becoming the first person since Magic Johnson in 1990–91 to average 18 points and 11 assists per game during the regular season. Nash received the most votes for first-team All-NBA and was joined by teammate Stoudemire; the two were the first teammates to make the first team since Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in 2003–04. Nash received 129 first-place votes and 645 total points from the panel of 129 media members. He narrowly missed being MVP a third consecutive time, coming in second with 44 first place votes to 83 for Dirk Nowitzki. In the playoffs, the Suns eliminated the Lakers in five games, but were unable to overcome the Spurs in the Conference Semifinals, losing the series 4–2.
Nash played in 81 regular-season games during the 2007–08 season; in this campaign, the Western Conference was especially competitive and he led the Suns to 55 wins and the sixth seed for the 2008 NBA Playoffs. Although there was a dip in his regular-season output, Nash's shooting remained sharp; the accuracy of his shooting was on par with his 2005–06 MVP campaign (shooting at least 50% from the field, 40% from the three-point arc, and 90% from the free throw line). On 31 January 2008, he collected his All-Star stripes for the sixth time in his career. However, Nash continued to experience agony in the playoffs. Despite a mid-season trade that sent Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat and brought four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal to the team, the Suns were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs for the third time in four years. In the deciding Game 5, Nash was perceived to have suffered from "elimination-game jitters", and turned over the ball twice in the final two minutes of what was a tight contest. Nevertheless, Nash was later named to the All-NBA Second Team for the 2007–08 season.
butttttttt, while in college, Nash played for the national team and competed in the Canada Games and World University Games. He won a bronze medal at the Canada Games and won a silver medal at the World University Games, losing to Team USA, which included players such as Michael Finley and Damon Stoudamire.
Nash captained Canada at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. He led Canada to win their round robin group with a victory over Spain and a stunning 83–75 win over favoured Yugoslavia when he scored 26 points with eight rebounds and eight assists. Canada was eliminated in the quarterfinals with a loss to France and Nash left the court in tears. Nash expressed disappointment with the result, saying "It hurts a lot. I feel like I let everybody down. We could have been in the championship game. We were good enough." Nevertheless, he did see a possible silver lining, saying "Hopefully kids [in Canada] will be inspired to play—that's what I really hope." A victory in its final game of the tournament, a placement game against Russia, enabled Canada to salvage 7th place. Nash's Olympic performance propelled him to stardom in Canada and he finished fifth in voting for the 2000 Lionel Conacher Award, which is handed out to the Canadian male athlete of the year.
Nash again led Team Canada during qualifying for the 2004 Summer Olympics at the Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was named tournament MVP, but Canada finished fourth, missing out on the three Olympic spots available. That was the last time Nash played for Canada. In December 2007, he said, "In my mind right now, I'm not going to play for Canada any more."
Nash is most noted for his playmaking, ball-handling skills and shooting. He led the league in assists for three years, averaging 11.5 assists per game in 2004–05, 10.5 in 2005–06 and 11.6 in 2006–07, and won the 2005 NBA All-Star Skills Contest. As at the end of 2007–08 season, he has an 89.7% free-throw shooting average (third-best in NBA history), a 43.1% career three-point shooting average (fifth-best in league history), and his total assists, assists per game, and three-point field goals made rank him as one of the top 20 players in league history. In the 2005–06 season, Nash became the fourth player in NBA history to shoot better than 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range (43.9), and 90% from the line, joining Larry Bird, Reggie Miller and Mark Price; this was a feat he would repeat two seasons later in the 2007–08 campaign.
A two-time NBA MVP, Nash is only the second point guard (along with Magic Johnson) to win the MVP award multiple times and the third guard in NBA history to earn back-to-back MVPs (joining Johnson and Michael Jordan). Only eight other NBA players have won back-to-back MVP awards: Johnson, Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, and Tim Duncan. On 11 May 2006, ESPN.com rated Nash as the 9th-best point guard of all time, and in a survey by nba.com in 2007, Nash received 85% of the votes by the league's general managers as best point guard in the league. Commenting on Nash losing out to former teammate Dirk Nowitzki for the 2007 NBA MVP, Boston Celtics centre and Hall Of Famer Russell stated: "I think, on the world stage, he's one of our great athletes in all sports... I'm a big fan. The two MVPs he got, he deserved. Part of the reason that he's so good and so effective is that the guys like playing with him. He creates an atmosphere where they win games."
In terms of specific skills, Nash is particularly effective playing the pick and roll, notably with Nowitzki when he was at Dallas and later with the Suns' Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. When Nash returned to Phoenix in 2004, he helped the Suns improve from a 29–53 record in 2003–04 to 62–20 in 2004–05, reaching the Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years, earning him his first MVP award. The next season, he led the Suns into the Conference Finals, despite the injuries of all three big men (Stoudemire, Kurt Thomas and Brian Grant); further, Nash was responsible for seven of his teammates attaining career-highs in season scoring.
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