It’s common for NBA stars to play the part of de facto GM, demanding their team acquire better players or risk losing them.
Before signing perhaps his last NBA contract this summer, Steve Nash announced that he has actually become a general manager — the GM of the Canadian men’s basketball team, that is.
Nash, the best player in Canadian basketball history, will take on a role like the one Wayne Gretzky held for the Canadian hockey team before the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics as the most high-profile executive for Canada Basketball.
“Obviously I love the program,” Nash told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. “It was a huge part of my development as a player. Going to the Olympics (in 2000) was the best experience of my career.
“So if I can help other Canadians experience that, it would be pretty amazing. I want to try to lend my hand to help develop our system and change the image and reputation of this country internationally and be a resource for as many of our good, young kids as possible.”
According to The Associated Press, Nash won’t receive compensation for his work but that hardly matters for a man who lives fairly comfortably off his NBA money and bleeds Canadian pride. Rowan Barrett, Nash’s former teammate on the national team, will run the day-to-day operations and hold an assistant GM position.
Stein reported that Nash will have “a strong say” in deciding Team Canada’s new coach, with former Raptors boss Jay Triano the favorite.
Since the Canadians did not qualify for the 2012 Olympics, they will next attempt to qualify for the World Cup (formerly the world championships) during the 2013 summer and then eventually for the 2016 Olympics, a tournament they have not qualified for since Two Time led them there in 2000.
The big question for Suns fans (or Mavs fans or Heat fans or Magic fans or fans of whatever team Nash lands with) concerns how this will affect his day job. Some team is going to throw a lot of money at Nash and may be a bit leery of him taking on these responsibilities.
On the surface it sounds daunting, but if there ever was an NBA player who could handle these unorthodox responsibilities while putting 110 percent into his team it would be Nash.
I would assume the majority of his work will be completed during the offseasons when Nash traditionally balances projects such as his production company Meathawk, his venture capitalist firm Consigliere and his own clothing line through Indochino during a time when many other players are actually competing for their national teams.
Nash is the kind of person who always must be doing something, so although it’s a bit unconventional I don’t expect it to take anything away from what he does on the court.
“Maybe the timing of this will seem a little bit odd because I’m still playing, but this is about trying to impact a bunch of kids, trying to be a good resource and a source of some good,” Nash told Stein. “We have a lot of developing talent in our country and I’m excited to help them.”
Of course perhaps the best way Nash could help Team Canada would be to actually suit up as a 42-year-old player-GM at the 2016 Olympics. Even at that advanced age Two Time surely would be an asset to the young Canadians on the floor.
What they said
According to The AP, here are some of the highlights from Tuesday’s presser:
Wayne Parrish, Canada Basketball’s president and CEO on Nash: ”Steve’s basketball IQ and background are unparalleled in the sport, and we are tremendously fortunate to have him. We have a perfect marriage here of incredible burgeoning talent within our men’s program and we feel we have in place the right structure and leadership at this point.”
Nash on joining forces with former teammate Barrett: ”We’ve talked about this since we played for the national team, of how we could impact the program, how we could improve it, how we could hopefully leave it in a better place than when we got involved. I guess it was a long time coming, but I didn’t foresee it being this early.”
Nash on Canadian basketball: “I’m really proud of the success we’ve seen from our players at all levels, and if I can use my experience and whatever wisdom I’ve accumulated in the game to help them, that’s really exciting for me, and I’m passionate about it.”