“Find something you love to do, and do it every day. Be obsessed — balance can come later. Use your imagination. Put pen to paper. Declare your intentions. Set small goals. Knock them off, set more goals. Gain momentum, build confidence. Grow a deep belief. Outwork people. Play the long game. You don’t have to be the chosen one. The secret is to build the resolve and the spirit to enjoy the plateaus, the times when you don’t feel like you’re improving and you’re questioning why you’re doing this. If you’re patient the plateaus will become springboards. Finally, never stop striving and reaching for your goals. But the truth is, even when you get there, the striving and fighting and pushing yourself to the limit every day will be what you miss and long for. You will never be more alive than when you give something everything you have.”
With these stirring words, delivered Sept. 7, 2018 on a symphony stage in Springfield, Massachusetts, Steve Nash ’92 concluded his induction speech to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The actual award, the absolute pinnacle of an athlete’s career, was the culmination of a young boy’s dream, one he had chased with a remarkable passion. Indeed, after first picking up a basketball in Grade 8, he embarked on a simply magical journey, claiming, against overwhelming odds, a staggering list of accomplishments and leaving an inspiring legacy.
Steve attended SMUS from 1990-1992, leading what many hoop aficionados still regard as the best B.C. high school team of all time. Superbly skilled and blessed with an unparalleled work ethic, he was named the province’s Most Outstanding Player. He was an equally key piece of the school’s championship 1st XV, as an elusive runner and ridiculously accurate place kicker.
Most people know what subsequently followed, as Steve went on to graduate in business from Santa Clara University while directing the Broncos to three NCAA basketball tournament appearances. A two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year, he crowned a wonderful college career by becoming an NBA first round draft pick in 1996, selected 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns.
Two years in Phoenix were followed by five in Dallas. Then, in 2004, Steve returned to the Suns, proceeding to resurrect a moribund franchise and, even more significantly, the sport itself thanks to his combination of leadership, talent, humility and selflessness. If not the greatest player of his generation, he was certainly the most influential, as he redefined point guard and team play. Sick of slow, stodgy, isolation based basketball, fans worldwide embraced the new style with its emphasis on pace, spacing and ball movement. In Canada, thousands of young men and women looked to follow Steve’s example, as the game exploded in popularity across the country.
In typical self-effacing fashion, Steve made light of any individual recognition and instead looked to laud teammates, coaches and fans for their support and assistance. Yet two NBA MVPs, eight All-Star selections, third all-time in assists, and four times a member of the “50-40-90” club tell their own story. Even if he had to endure more than his share of Olympic and NBA playoff heartbreak, he could and can point proudly to multiple provincial and national Athlete of the Year awards, as well as other distinctions including The Order of Canada. Furthermore, he was a torch bearer at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, was named to the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor and currently leads a national basketball renaissance via his work as the General Manager of Canada’s Senior Men’s team.
Of course, a true superstar also makes a massive impact off the court. Though recognized in many quarters for his service and philanthropy, his greatest contribution remains the Steve Nash Foundation, founded in 2001, which focuses on under-served children affected by poverty, illness, abuse or neglect. Creating opportunities for education, play and empowerment, the Foundation continues to raise and distribute millions of dollars to charities all over the world.
Steve has also branched into the entertainment industry, through his independent film company. His ESPN “30 for 30” documentary titled “Into the Wind”, about his childhood hero Terry Fox, received particular acclaim.
Married to Lilla Frederick, he dotes on twin daughters Lola and Bella, as well as sons Matteo and Luca.
The Latin phrase sui generis translates as “in a class by itself.” This certainly reflects Steve and his achievements.
From everyone at SMUS, congratulations and VIVAT!
News coverage of Steve Nash’s Hall of Fame induction
Canadian Hall of Famer Steve Nash changed basketball, says his high school coach (The Canadian Press via The Province)
(video courtesy of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame)