Ifweren’t a two-time NBA MVP tasked with running an offense 82 games a year, there’s a pretty good chance he’d be playing soccer.
The shaggy Canadian has a long history with the world’s most popular sport (outside the US anyway) dating back to his childhood, and despite the fact that he has spent his professional life building a legacy as one of the best point guards to ever play basketball, he’s never lost touch with soccer.
If basketball were Nash’s wife, soccer would most certainly be his mistress (not that he’s the cheating type). Nash’s love for soccer peaks through on the hardwood as he’s one of few players who regularly kicks the ball to referees without even a tinge of anger — it’s just his way of passing the ball. And while it’s not legal to put foot to ball while the clock is running, Nash has had the chance to display his footwork at practice.
Though he’d surely rather be competing against the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, Nash’s early finish to the NBA season has afforded him the opportunity to serve as a 2010 World Cup correspondent for CBS Sports. The grandest stage of soccer began today in South Africa, where Nash was born, and Nash made his way there earlier this week.
Nash will create and file a series of videos and reports for CBS Sports from the African nation and his video production company, Meathawk, will have a hand in it all. If Meathawk’s previous projects are any indication, Nash’s World Cup reports will no doubt be the most unique and hilarious coverage of the massive event.
According to CBS Sports’ official announcement, Nash will post eight videos to CBSSports.com and the site’s YouTube page (youtube.com/CBSSports). He’ll also upload photos and other content via iPhone while also interacting with fans through CBS Sports’ social media platforms and his own Facebook page.
“This project with CBSSports.com combines two of my passions off the basketball court, the beautiful game known internationally as ‘football’ and video production,” Nash said in the statement. “I look forward to shooting some memorable pieces from South Africa and giving fans a unique and sometimes humorous look at the World Cup.”
There’s little doubt that a big part of Nash will want to throw on a jersey and get on the field to compete, as he does in New York during the summer. Nash said in a 2005 interview with GQ, that he “could have played professionally” if he’d focused on it. Try to picture Nash in short shorts, a Tottenham Hotspur jersey and cleats — not so hard (But Nash a SPUR?!?? There’s a Planet Orange nightmare). But try to imagine if Nash had never donned purple and orange. Basketball history as we know it would be drastically different.
It’s interesting to consider whether Nash’s soccer background contributes anything to his basketball ability. Soccer is a game that requires a lot of endurance (as does basketball, just not as much), which Nash has possessed basically his entire career. Soccer also requires much awareness. Nash has some of the best, if not the best, court vision in the NBA. He’s always aware of where his teammates are, moves in and out of defenses and seems to play about three seconds ahead of everyone else most of the time. Hard to imagine there isn’t some overlap of skills.
Nash’s passion for soccer stretches far beyond a love of the game and casual participation. In fact, Nash even trained with the New York Red Bulls of the MLS in 2006. Nash expanded his MLS ties in 2008 when he joined the ownership group of Canadian team Vancouver Whitecaps FC as it attempted to win an expansion spot in the American-based league. The team won the spot in March 2009 and will begin play in 2011 (no word yet on Nash suiting up a la MJ and the Wizards).
Nash has expressed aspirations to be a more involved owner once his basketball career is over. For now, he’ll settle for pickup games and comical coverage of the most important event in the game of soccer. With a big month ahead and many games to be played, Nash will need to get plenty of rest.
Captain Canada will take a break from covering the Cup to host his Showdown in Chintatown event in New York later this month. The game features soccer stars and NBA players.
With as much time as Nash has spent and continues to spend on soccer endeavors, his fans might wonder when he has time to keep his basketball game in top form. Maybe he doesn’t sleep? With the way he played in 2009-10, I don’t think anyone is too concerned with his training regimen or basketball focus.
Obviously, everyone on Planet Orange would love to be watching the Suns chase the Larry O’Brien Trophy right now, but no other NBA fans get the small consolation of watching their highly skilled, endlessly creative point guard cover another sport freely. Even the World Cup is a little bit ORNG this time around.