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Sports Illustrated will announce its choice for Sportsman of the Year on Dec. 4. Below are some personal choices for that honor by SI writers.
11/13/2006 02:25:00 PM

My Sportsman: Steve Nash

Steve Nash
Steve Nash isn't just the two-time defending MVP, he's one the NBA's best role models.
John W. McDonough/SI

By Michael Farber

If I am sounding like a broken record by nominating Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash for a second consecutive November as SI's Sportsman of the Year, then Nash simply will have to stop winning the NBA Most Valuable Player Award.

The odds were set at a steep 13-1 by one gambling site against Nash making it a trifecta in 2006-07; they are 500-1 that SI.com will allow me to nominate him a third consecutive year. But he has taken the odds throughout his basketball life and mocked them like a mad, dribbling Borat.

From British Columbia to Santa Clara to NBA benchwarmer to the one player in the league who makes everyone around him better (two words: Boris Diaw), this 6-foot-2 latter-day Bob Cousy triggers a headlong Phoenix style that enlivens an often-dreary halfcourt league.

There is something lyrical about Nash running a fastbreak, and not just the lyrics that Nelly Furtado scribbles down. (When you break through into Grammy territory -- she mentions him in Promiscuous -- that really is a crossover dribble.) As the cultural bankruptcy of USA Basketball is exposed every time an American team falters internationally, a skinny Canadian provides an 82-game-a-year tutorial about the sweet nature of the sport.

That preseason little boy haircut has not Samson-ed him in the least, incidentally. On the court, he remains finger-lickin' good.

The second straight MVP moved Nash close to Wayne Gretzky territory in his homeland, where he is adored as much for his good works as for his good play. When the Vince Carter charity basketball game in Toronto started to disintegrate after the Raptors traded Carter, the Steve Nash Foundation stepped in and picked up the shards of the fundraiser. Nor have Canadians forgotten Nash's contribution in the 2000 Olympics, which went beyond scintillating play that almost lifted Canada into a medal game. Nash gave $3,000 each to his lesser-known, lesser-paid teammates, truly making them richer for having known him.

Nash, who wore a "No War -- Shoot for Peace" T-shirt at the '03 All-Star game, clearly is a man of convictions. And not one of his convictions involve firing a gun outside an Indianapolis strip club at three in the morning.

Sounds like Sportsman material to me.

posted by sidotcom | View comments |  

Comments:

Posted: 12:55 PM   by Anonymous
I respect Michael Farber's opinion but how can he pick Steve Nash over Shaq. Did SI's hockey expert watch the NBA finals last year? I think not.
Posted: 12:59 PM   by Anonymous
Steve Nash has been an inspiration to Canadian kids dreaming of a chance to play basketball in the NBA ever since he first put on an NBA jersey. He is the reason why many Canadians, follow roundball. His off court demeanor and charity work solidifies his place as a class act. I agree with Michael Farber. Steve Nash for Sportsman of the Year.
Posted: 1:10 PM   by Anonymous
Good call. I think Nash is an inspiration to a lot of people, not just old hoops fans who like to see someone play the right way. He's a class act on and off the court, and a joy to watch.

And I can't believe that other comment mentioning Shaq. That guy couldn't have been watching the NBA finals either...
Posted: 1:15 PM   by Anonymous
Shaq? He wasn't even the best player on his own team, so why you're asking if someone watched the finals is a strange argument. We're talking overall sportsmen here, not specific game achievements.
Posted: 1:56 PM   by Anonymous
Nash for sportsman? Give me a break, what did the Suns win? Oh, yeah- NOTHING.
I know the odds are probably 10,000 to 1 but SI should give the award to Misty May and Kerri Walsh since they totally dominated their sport more than anyone else.
Posted: 2:17 PM   by Anonymous
There is no athlete in sports that I respect more than Steve Nash. He truly is an amazing sportsman and I don't know who compares to him as far as talent, brains, energy, and heart are concerned.
Posted: 2:24 PM   by casperthree
Michael Farber understands sports, and life for that matter, better than most. I am not sure what the Phoenix Suns would have done without him, but I am pretty sure they would still be languishing. They will be fine this year but you cannot ask a skinny, little guard to keep this up forever. However, as Mr. Farber points out, it is everything he does off the court, which by the way, helps make his team better (only other coaches would understand that). This man makes everyone around him a better player and person.

Kudos to you Mr. Farber for your comments.

Steve Nash inspires everyone.

If you don't understand sports, you would most likely disagree.
Posted: 2:25 PM   by Burrows
Why would it matter if the Suns won or not?? A player with the class and integrity of Steve Nash could play for the likes of the Knicks and still be worthy of this award... well maybe not the Knicks. With all the problems athletes get into off the court, Nash is a perfect example of how to be a professional; as a player and as a person. It's players like Nash, that make this game so great. And it's people like Nash, that make me proud to be a Canadian.
Posted: 3:27 PM   by Anonymous
Nash is massively overrated. He's good, no doubt, but not even deserving of one, much less two, MVP's. Okay, so he makes bad players into better players...but Dirk is better without him...Joe Johnson is better without him...the Mavs are better without him. Just look at the records and the stats.
Posted: 3:33 PM   by Anonymous
I don't think there's a professional athlete that's achieved higher heights than Nash with less talent or athletic ability. He's a role model for people who can't dunk the baskeball or don't stand over seven feet tall. (That should cover well over 99% of the population) He's a perfect example of dedication, determination and leadership ability. Hooray for the little guy.
Posted: 4:06 PM   by Dave
Wow, that overrated comment was one of the dumber things I've ever heard. Yes, Dallas got better after Steve left, but let's make allowances for the fact that they made some nice moves. The fact remains that Phoenix got 30 wins better. Joe Johnson is great, but isn't BETTER without Steve, he just gets more opportunities in Atlanta. And Dirk? He's a great player who got greater AND who has more opportunities to dominate the ball. The fact remains that a dozen players have had their best scoring seasons while playing with Steve the last 2 seasons. He makes everyone better and he should make everyone want to live better because of what he does off the court. Overrated??? Ridiculous.
Posted: 7:18 PM   by Anonymous
I agree, Steve Nash is an impressive role model in standing up for the little guy. I really respect the fact that he never thinks of himself as MVP material and yet he makes everybody in the Phoenix Suns all star material. Raja Bell and Leondro Barbosa are better examples than Boris Diaw (who is floundering this season). Yes Joe Johnson is better in Atlanta, it's only true because Joe Johnson is the leader of Atlanta while he is the fourth option on the phoenix Suns team. It begs to question though how Joe Johnson would even get a contract without Steve Nash opening the lanes and allowing Joe Johnson the perimeter play making ability to find its way into a contract with Atlanta.
Posted: 8:35 PM   by Anonymous
Yep, joe johnson sure has a lot of competition for the ball over in atlanta. it's the JJ show and not much else.

Nash took what was basically a six man team last year within two games of the Finals, a team that was down two major players and by Game 6 was down three major players (bell may have been playing, but he was almost completely ineffective).

That after his team was written off during preseason.
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