Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Steve Nash: Making Everyone Better

Anyone who knows NBA basketball understands that players don’t so much as break a sweat until (best case scenario) late in the second quarter. Last night’s Golden State Warriors vs. the Phoenix Suns was no exception. Unfortunately for Warriors fans, it was no contest. The Suns led most of the game by 20+ points. Consequently, I did what any basketball fan should do: watch one player and one player only—Steve Nash.

Along with my former colleague and friend Kevin, I joined the Santa Clara Alumni Association before the game to sit courtside. Nash is SCU’s most successful athletic alum. He came out to hear 50+ people sing "Happy Birthday" as he completed his pregame warm-up.

As we celebrated Nash’s special day, I realized he is 8 days older than me. I stared at the two-time MVP, in total awe. At 6’3” and with little to no body fat, his size is far from intimidating. His 37 years of age have by no means slowed him down. Despite the Suns’ significant lead, Nash didn’t have a sub until late in the fourth quarter. And when he finally came out of the game, he must lie on his back—because of spondylolisthesis. It would seem likely that this medical condition, which causes muscle tightness and back pain, would prevent Nash from returning to the game or regular play. Not true. When the Warriors finally brought the game within 10 points in the fourth quarter, Nash stretched and was ready to return.

Fans know that he has led the league in assists, that his free throw percentage is in the 90s, that his work ethic is insane and that he truly is a great point guard, but if there is one thing I think everyone should know about this future Hall of Famer, it’s this: Steve Nash makes everyone on his team better.
Nash has incredible vision. Nash gets the ball to his teammates with precise passing and accurate timing. Little flash and lots of hustle, he sees the hole, he finds the gap to move the ball to his teammates first and to himself second. I must say, I haven’t seen that many bounce passes in a game since I coached a sixth-grade girls’ team in South Louisiana. But Nash is a master of the fundamentals--he executes, he lets his teammates play to their gifts and their position. I won’t say he’s selfless—he takes his fair share of shots—and I still don’t think he’s God (see my least favorite posting of all time) but I realized as I saw him play, I was a witness to greatness.

For all intensive purposes, last night’s game at Oracle Arena was a sleeper. But watching Steve Nash as intentionally as I did make me wonder—are there people in our community, family, or workplaces who, like Steve Nash, make everyone better? I am surrounded by people I look up to and admire. Others inspire me. I even know folks who challenge my way of thinking and my lifestyle for the better. But can I identify a person who makes everyone around them better? Can you? I have coached enough teams and taught enough students to know, albeit rare when you meet a person who makes everyone better, you never forget them nor their impact. Watch them, see what they do, learn from them. They make the game of life so much more interesting.
Steve Nash, you inspire me as a teacher to work hard, to use my off-season to improve. Your discipline on and off the court has reaped rewards. I want to find a way to make others around me their very best by your example. This is what Jesus did. Maybe you are God…

Photo CreditsWarriors vs. Suns
With Hill and Carter
Nashty Smiles


  1. LOVE THIS!!! Happy early birthday ;)

  2. Nash is one of those who will always think of the team first before himself. He reminds me of John Stockton of the Jazz, who always seeks to pass first before scoring. Or Wayne Gretsky who leads the NHL in all time assist because is looks for opportunities for his teammates first and foremost. For these people, without them, there can be no points or goals scored. Read more of such inspiring sports stories at