Nash says this is a golden era for basketball

Nash: Success of Wiggins and Co., has made for golden era of Canadian basketball

Los Angeles Lakers Canadian guard Steve Nash talks to members of the media in Toronto

By Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Steve Nash is grappling with his frustrating final days in the NBA, but he says he’s thrilled with the promising careers of his fellow Canadians.

The 41-year-old former NBA MVP has been sidelined for the season — and very likely the rest of his career — with a debilitating back injury, and he said the adjustment hasn’t been easy.

“I’m basically just trying to get a little space and see where my head’s at, while still focusing on some things and also trying to get a new perspective, because it’s been a pretty tough fight over the last 18 months or so,” Nash said. “So just getting a little space and seeing how my mind and body responds.”

The Los Angeles Lakers guard was in Toronto for a sponsorship announcement Monday, and while he spoke to reporters at length about Canada’s young stars such as Andrew Wiggins, questions about his own NBA future and his health were off-limits.

Nash wished Wiggins a happy birthday — the Minnesota Timberwolves rookie turned 20 on Monday.

“Andrew’s been phenomenal,” Nash said. “He’s very young, he has a bright future, and his rookie season has been incredible. I don’t think people understand what a jump it is from college to the pros and sometimes how difficult it can be to be in a position he’s in where he’s asked to do a lot and play a lot, and kind of grow on the fly like that.

“It can show a lot of blemishes, and to be honest, I would thought it would have been very fair for him to make a ton of mistakes this year, and for it to be really awkward, and he’s just been incredible. Definitely a testament to his ability.”

Wiggins leads all rookies in scoring, has won three consecutive NBA rookie of the month awards and was the MVP of the Rising Stars game during all-star weekend.

Nash is the general manager of Canada’s men’s team, and said with the emergence Wiggins and others, this is a golden age for the sport in this country.

“This age is beyond a golden age,” Nash said. “Let’s hope though that it’s not just a moment in time, and that we’ve turned a corner as far as how the game as grown.

“It’s phenomenal, it’s such an amazing place we’re in as a country, in the sport, so much young talent and more to come.”

The young talent will be on display this summer when Canada plays in the Pan American Games in Toronto, and then the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament the following month in Mexico.

Nash said he hopes Canadian players embrace the Pan Am Games.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for the program, but I think it’s an even more unique and amazing opportunity for our players,” Nash said. “We never really got the opportunity to play a meaningful Games in our own country so for these guys — and a lot of our team is from Toronto — to be able to play in their hometown or in their home country, it’s an opportunity I wish I had.

“I really want to implore those guys to take it, and not just come play obviously but to really take it all in, and try to put on a good show by becoming a team and trying to be No. 1.”

With 12 Canadians playing in the NBA, the squad should have more depth than ever before. Nash said it’s inevitable that there will come a time that they’ll have to cut an NBA player.

“So whether they’re not on the team this qualifying, or at the Olympics or the next world championships, they’re a part of the program, they’re pushing each other to make it, and succeed, and if 12 (other) guys go this time, maybe you’re in the group that goes next time,” Nash said.

“If you look at the national hockey team. . . a lot of guys are going to get cut who are phenomenal players, and you have to at some point say ‘OK I didn’t make it this time, but I’m going to root for the boys and I’m going to be there next time because I’m going to bust my butt to be there.’ And that’s the way these guys have to approach it.”

Nash was appearing Monday as the global ambassador for Tangerine’s sponsorship program #BrightWayForward. The deal includes a multi-year partnership with Canada Basketball and the Steve Nash Youth Basketball program.

Nash has played in just 65 regular-season games for the Lakers since he signed a three-year contract that will pay him $9.7 million this season. The two-time NBA MVP appeared in three games in this past pre-season, but wasn’t able to begin what would have been his 19th NBA season.

Just Posted

Coroner’s inquest announced for Oak Bay teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Snake seen slithering in Saanich neighbourhood

Police describe the animal as ‘large, pale [and] yellow’ suggesting it might be exotic

Councillor wants to see concrete action after Saanich declares climate emergency

Coun. Nathalie Chambers doesn’t want declaration to be mere ‘lip-service’

UPDATE: West Shore RCMP reunite camera with owner

Police sought public’s help to identify people photographed on the camera with record-time results

Beware of geese: Nesting season may trigger aggressive behaviour

Greater Victoria residents will have to be wary of nesting geese in the area

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Military officer accused of sexual misconduct, drunkenness in B.C., Alberta

Warrant Officer Jarvis Kevin Malone is charged under the National Defence Act

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

Howard the giant gnome finds new home on Vancouver Island

Iconic attraction will move from Nanoose Bay to Galey Farms in Saanich

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

Most Read