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May 08, 2002

Outtakes with Steve Nash

UNCUT OUTTAKES: A condensed version of Dan Patrick's interview with Dallas Mavericks point guard Steve Nash appears in the April 29 edition of ESPN The Magazine.

Steve Nash
Dallas point guard Steve Nash averaged 17.9 points and 7.7 assists this season.
DP: Give me your Canadian All-Star basketball team.
SN: Geez. Well, Jay Triano at the 2. Leo Rautins at 3, Eli Pasquale at the point. Gerald Kazanowski at the 4. And at the 5, Billy Wennington.
DP: This team isn't scaring anybody, you know that.
SN: Canadians are not as scary as they are wily.

DP: Did your brother play pro soccer in England?
SN: He did.
DP: And your father?
SN: My dad played professionally in South Africa.
DP: So who's the best athlete in the family?
SN: I think my brother is the best natural athlete in the family.
DP: Are you a soccer fan more than you are a basketball fan?
SN: Yeah, I would say so.
DP: So who's going to win the World Cup this year?
SN: Well, I'm hoping England does because that's where my family is from. But if I were to pick a favorite, I'd say Argentina right now looks pretty good.

DP: Give me a soccer athlete who you could see playing basketball. I mean, a guy like Maradona was obviously too small to play, but ... I tend to look at basketball players as the best athletes in the world. I don't know if you look at soccer players and say they're better. You have a better idea than I do.
SN: Yeah, I think I can make a lot better argument for them, but I don't know if I can say they're better. You know, it's tough with the size that basketball athletes bring to the table; they bring a new factor into the equation. But I know a lot of soccer players who would be great basketball players.
DP: Because Hakeem Olajuwon was a soccer player. ... It's a great teaching tool to start with.
SN: For balance and coordination and cardiovascular fitness, soccer is unbelievable.

DP: Is it true that your first word was "goal"?
SN: Yeah, it was.
DP: How did that happen?
SN: I guess my dad would always put my arms above my head saying "goal."
DP: Your mom didn't have a problem with that?
SN: I don't know. She probably told him to stop quite a few times, but...
DP: Yeah, I would think, how about "mama" or "dada" before "goal"?
SN: He probably enjoyed tormenting her.

DP: Gandhi is your hero, right? Is there a Gandhi-like player in the NBA?
SN: Gandhi-like player in the NBA? I don't know a Gandhi-like person in the world.
DP: Well, what position would Gandhi have played?
SN: He would definitely have been a point ... but you can make a case for every position, because I think the man had a lot of power. He was definitely small, so probably point guard. But I think he would have been the most versatile player in league history.
DP: What attracted you to him? Did somebody turn you on to Gandhi?
SN: I'd heard some people talk about him, and it seemed amazing. And I read a little bit about him. I think what I respect the most about him is that he was constantly -- he was constantly searching. He was constantly putting himself under suspicion, his motives, and constantly searching for truth. And I think that's pretty remarkable, especially considering how dishonest we are today, especially with ourselves ... I've heard a quote or saying, that no man in the deepest corners of his heart or soul has any considerable amount of respect for himself. I think the honesty he showed proved he actually did have some respect for himself, a considerable amount.
DP: And of course, Gandhi was shaving his head long before Jordan did.
SN: He was.
DP: I think he started it, it wasn't Jordan. He was wearing baggy shorts, too.
SN: Yeah, it was him or Ben Kingsley.
DP: Every time I see Ben Kingsley, I don't care what role he plays, I always think of the movie "Gandhi."
SN: Oh, it's hilarious. I just saw him in "Sexy Beast."
DP: He's great.
SN: And it was so funny, because he plays this cockney, you know, a hard-nut gangster -- and I just kept thinking "Gandhi" ... you know, when I was a kid Wayne Gretzky was my hero. By far, he was my hero.

DP: Your given name is Steven John Nash, isn't it?
SN: Yes.
DP: So you obviously have a beautiful mind.
SN: Well, my dad's name is John Nash. So his is even more beautiful.
DP: When he saw that Russell Crowe was portraying John Nash, how did your dad respond?
SN: The funny thing is that my dad talks more trash than anyone I know, but he didn't really have that big a field day with it. We thought he'd have been, like, "Oh yeah, my movie's out now, my 'Beautiful Mind.'" But I think it even caught him by surprise.

DP: Have you ever been mistaken for one of the Gallagher brothers of Oasis?
SN: I hope not.
DP: Those guys are punks, by the way.
SN: Well, one of them is a punk, for sure.
DP: They take themselves just a little too seriously.
SN: Yeah. "Oasis: Behind the Music" was one of the most comical things I've ever seen in my entire life.
DP: So you've never been misidentified as one of the Gallaghers?
SN: I've heard it from time to time: "Oasis, man." But no.
DP: How do you respond?
SN: I'm like, "Right on."

DP: Give me your favorite movie line.
SN: "Caddyshack" is way up there, I think, on everyone's list.
DP: When do you quote it? You don't quote it during a game so...
SN: You can quote "Caddyshack" anytime.
DP: Wait a minute, you quote it during a game?
SN: You could anytime. If Nelly [Mavs coach Don Nelson] tells us to run a play, you can always just throw in a "we can do that" -- you don't even need a reason.
DP: What else do you quote?
SN: During a game, I really don't quote much, man.
DP: What about with your friends, though?
SN: "Caddyshack" has been pretty popular.

DP: What's your favorite Bob Marley song?
SN: That's a tough question. I would say "Redemption Song."
DP: See, mine is "No Woman, No Cry."
SN: Hey, don't get me wrong -- that's why it's so hard to pick. I think "No Woman, No Cry" is very fitting for you. It's a classic.
DP: Favorite Beatles song?
SN: How about "A Day In The Life"?
DP: If you had a chance to see Marley or the Beatles, if you could, which one would you go to see?
SN: That's not fair.
DP: I didn't say I was going to be fair.
SN: Man, that's not fair. I honestly can't answer that. Summer Sanders asked me today in an interview, "Bird or Magic?" And I said, "Impossible." Most people are cut-and-dried Bird or Magic. But there's just no way I could pick one.
DP: Did you favor one for a while and then become more of a fan of the other?
SN: Maybe.
DP: Because it's hard to be a fan of both.
SN: At that time, I think I was more of a Magic fan. But since then, it's become so equal I forgot I was a Magic fan more than a Bird fan.

DP: Do you understand Radiohead? SN: Not really, no. But you know, probably what's great about it is that you make your own interpretation.
DP: I listened to "OK Computer" a few times, and I came away saying, must be me.
SN: Didn't you like the music?
DP: It's OK, but it wasn't, like, ground-breaking.
SN: If you turn on the radio today, you're really still hearing the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or whoever else set the standard at some point. But when you hear Radiohead, you very rarely hear that, especially in their evolution. So I think they're constantly taking risks and breaking new ground. I give them a tremendous amount of respect because of that, because they're willing to try new things. ... A lot of people say, why are they trying this crazy, different stuff? But why not?
DP: That's a valid point.
SN: The music itself is excellent. And I think he's a very clever guy, the main singer who writes the lyrics and is kind of the mastermind behind most of it.

DP: The amount of attention paid to your hair is ridiculous.
SN: Completely. How much attention would my hair get if I played hockey?
DP: You'd be just like every other puckhead.
SN: Yeah, with the mullet.
DP: You probably had a mullet before.
SN: I actually had one last season -- and thank you very much.
DP: A Barry Melrose-type mullet, though, that's what I'm talking about.
SN: Oh, I've never really had one that bad.

DP: Who's got the worst hair in the NBA?
SN: Besides me, gosh -- who has the worst hair? Well, you ever notice the streaks Sean Bradley put in his hair?
DP: He doesn't play, so that's why I don't notice.
SN: That's a good point.
DP: So he went with the streaks at age 30. That's nice. So you say Sean has some bad hair?
SN: I wouldn't say Sean has bad hair, but I'd say the streaks were a bit of a gamble.
DP: He's a wild Mormon, you know.
SN: He is wild.

DP: I've tried to emulate your hair and I can't, you know. I have TV hair. It just doesn't work that way.
SN: What do you mean?
DP: Well, there's a difference. I have TV hair -- it can't move. Yours is always in your eyes and stringy and it gets wet. Mine has to look perfect every night.
SN: It has to? Can't you -- I think that you have enough seniority and tenure at "SportsCenter" and beyond to do anything you want.
DP: It doesn't work that way. It doesn't work that way.
SN: Why?
DP: Because it's like -- look, Jordan, he scored all those points and won all those rings, but he could take a couple of nights off. I can't.
SN: You don't have to take a night off. You can grow your hair a little longer and a little longer and a little longer.
DP: No, because every night is the NBA Finals for me. I have to treat it that way.
SN: Yeah, I guess.
DP: I mean, you could take a night off and let Michael Finley or Nick Van Exel carry you, but I can't do that.
SN: Yeah, I guess.

Steve Nash
Steve Nash says his hero is Gandhi because he was "constantly searching for truth."
DP: Describe the perfect day off.
SN: The perfect day off for me would be good food, a nap in the afternoon, some time with the guys and a movie that night.
DP: No women?
SN: Well, I didn't say who I was taking to the movies.
DP: Did your love life come up in the Summer Sanders interview?
SN: No, that was for internal stuff.
DP: All basketball-related?
SN: Very PG.
DP: But I would be remiss if I didn't bring up your love life, wouldn't I? Or is it an invasion? I mean, you can date somebody we know or recognize, but are we allowed to ask you about that? Does it bother you?
SN: Well, I think people can do whatever they want, for one.
DP: Yeah, but does it bother you or do you expect that kind of attention if you date somebody?
SN: I don't think I ever expected that kind of attention, but I have a hard time judging other people's curiosity. In some ways, I find it interesting to find out who people are dating. But to be in that situation, definitely it's strange. If it's something you really want to talk about, something you really feel like sharing, then in our profession your life can be as much of an open book as you allow it. But I don't know if I really want that part of my life to be open.

DP: Who's the best practical joker either on your team or in the league?
SN: On my team, Danny Manning would be the best practical joker.
DP: Well, he's a veteran, so he probably knows all the tricks. Has he done stuff to you?
SN: No, nothing to me. But he's done little things here and there that were pretty good. Dirk Nowitzki was having ankle problems this season. He was wearing low cuts, and Danny kept telling Dirk, "Stop wearing those and maybe your ankles will get better." So one day Dirk went into his locker and there was a shoebox ... and he opened it up and there were some house slippers. He's telling Dirk, that's what you're playing in.
DP: Does Dirk teach you curse words in German?
SN: Of course.
DP: Have you used them in a game?
SN: Probably not in a game, but I use them in our conversations quite often.

DP: What's your favorite Mark Cuban story?
SN: Mark Cuban story?
DP: He wants to play, doesn't he?
SN: I guess he probably does. I don't know ... favorite Cuban story.
DP: You can't bash the owner because he's a pretty good owner, but...
SN: He's an amazing owner. He is pretty hilarious. I mean, who is like him in the world?
DP: I have no idea. Nobody?
SN: There's probably a lot of people like him, but none of them get a chance to own a team and do what he does in the public eye.

DP: Have you ever had a conversation with Shaq during a game? Does he talk at all?
SN: I don't like to start conversations on the court. But I like him, man, he's a good guy. He's got a great sense of humor.
DP: Can you learn anything from John Stockton now?
SN: Oh, of course.
DP: But haven't you seen everything he's done?
SN: Yeah, but he just does things over and over, and that's what makes him so great -- that ability to execute the same thing over and over. Consistency is greatness in our league. But at the same time, I watch him to learn different ways to get the job done. Different ways to do the same thing, really.
DP: You're not like Stockton, though. Who would you compare yourself to?
SN: I don't know, who?
DP: Who would I compare you to?
SN: Yeah. Do you watch Direct TV and stuff, so you've seen me play quite a bit?
DP: Yeah. I liked your game better at Santa Clara, though.
SN: Why is that?
DP: Well ... I just liked the way you took charge. I mean, it was your team, and that's something that not many guys have. ... By the way, do you know Santa Clara's fight song?
SN: No, I don't.
DP: You don't?
SN: Nope.

DP: If I said the point guard's job is to blank, what would you fill in?
SN: Win.
DP: Just win?
SN: Yeah.
DP: Do you find that too many point guards shoot before they pass?
SN: Probably. That's tough, because I probably shoot too much now. But Nelly made me into this.
DP: But it took a while. Nelly had to tell you to shoot.
SN: I definitely always wanted to set up my teammates, and it took me a while to score, but that's what he wanted out of me. I guess he knew I could score. You know, it was hard for me. I didn't feel that comfortable shooting for a long time.
DP: Is there is a part of you that says, "I have to be unselfish"?
SN: I think there is a part of me that's unselfish, so it's my nature to pass. But now it's ingrained in my head, I need to score. So I've really changed my game. It's really been a change for me.

DP: Is there a point guard who gives you problems, who you still haven't figured out?
SN: It's hard to say one. There are so many, and it's not a matter of figuring it out. If you asked most guards in this league, all the top guards, there's really not much you can do about it if they're having a good night. You know? I mean, you're kind of at the mercy of how someone's feeling that night.
DP: If you put together the perfect point guard, who would you pick for each facet of the game? Let's say you started with shooting.
SN: Well, I think I'm as good a shooter as any point guard.
DP: All right, we'll put you in there.
SN: Stockton's a great shooter, too.
DP: Ball-handling?
SN: Gosh, I don't know -- I think Allen Iverson's a great ball-handler.
DP: But he's not a point guard.
SN: True. I don't know.
DP: Jason Williams?
SN: Yeah, he's incredible handing the ball.
DP: Rebounding? Would you say Jason Kidd?
SN: Yep.
DP: Defense, Gary Payton?
SN: Yes.

DP: Your favorite Jennifer Lopez movie?
SN: "U-Turn" was pretty twisted.
DP: I liked "Out of Sight."
SN: Yeah, physically, but she was beautiful in "U-Turn" -- even though it was a messed-up movie, it did have Sean Penn and Billy Bob Thornton, two of my favorite actors.
DP: Passing thought: Her butt is about as big as Robert "Tractor" Traylor's.
SN: We haven't had lunch lately or anything, but I have to admit, I've noticed it in different sizes. But all the combinations and permutations of J.Lo's famous feature are good to me.

DP: Where is your tattoo?
SN: At home. I've just never been compelled to get a tattoo.
DP: But if you were getting one, what are you getting?
SN: Either a naked woman or a lyric to a Bob Marley song.
DP: No. You'd get the Spice Girls.
SN: I'll name my naked lady Ginger, for you.
DP: I almost feel sorry for you.
SN: Why? You know the pain and torment I go through each day?
DP: Yeah, right. You don't get cheated, my friend.
SN: Not a bit. I have as much fun as anybody I know.

DP: Do you watch the NCAA Tournament?
SN: I don't really watch college basketball any more, but the tournament I do watch. I think it's an amazing event.
DP: Especially when you see Indiana beat Duke.
SN: Yeah, but I didn't see it.
DP: Because you were playing.
SN: It looked like an amazing game, at least the finish was amazing.
DP: Back to the NBA: Will anybody stop the Lakers this year?
SN: I think the West has gotten better ... I don't know if anyone will, but I think definitely people can ... I also think we're going to be really tough for anybody to beat.

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