When you think about Welsh sportsmen how far down the list do you get before you consider the NBA? We’ll hazard the guess that it’s quite a long bloomin’ way. If ever.
Did you know though that there has been one person to take to the basketballing big time? He was damn good too. Here we look at Steve Nash; the only Welsh player in NBA history.
Who is Steve Nash?
When you learn that Nash was born in South Africa, raised in Canada and a star name in American sport it doesn’t scream Wales; not at all. His mother, Jean, though was from Swansea whilst his father, John, was also a Brit – albeit from London.
His parents emigrated to South Africa where Nash was born in Johannesburg. The stay in Africa was short lived; Nash was just 18 months old when apartheid played a major role in encouraging the family to move once more.
This time they opted for Vancouver Island but only after a short stop gap in Saskatchewan. It was Vancouver Island where Nash would spend the majority of his childhood.
Soccer not basketball…to begin with
Canada and America are not really known for their soccer now. Back when Nash was a young lad, in the seventies and eighties, they really weren’t interested in association football; Nash, however, was. It wasn’t until he approached his teenage years that he found his love of basketball.
In fact, he has been noted as saying he preferred football – and would have had half a chance of making it – but he was better with the ball in his hands as opposed to at his feet.
He played for the High School team of St Michaels in British Columbia but flew largely under the radar. Santa Clara eventually picked him up on a scholarship for college and, despite him being labelled a defensive dud, his offensive game saw him excel under the tutelage of legendary collegiate coach Dick Davey.
By the time he graduated, Nash had shown himself to be one of the best three point shooters in the league along with holding a number of school records. The 1996 NBA draft awaited; Nash was a round one pick as he joined the Phoenix Suns.
Smashing the NBA
Okay, so we can hear you asking the question. So, how good was he? Well, one of the best there has been actually. If you consider the fact the NBA is vastly superior to any other basketball league around the world their MVP award is akin to football’s Ballon d’Or.
Nash won it twice back to back; for context Gareth Bale has never won the Ballon d’Or. It’s what underpinned those MVP wins that really drives home the message as to how good Nash was though.
Alongside the Suns, where he had most success split between two spells, he also played for the Dallas Mavericks and donned the famed jersey of the LA Lakers.
He led the NBA in assists a whopping five times; his total assists haul stands at 10,335. That’s the third most by anyone, ever. On top of that he sank over 17,000 points and featured in the 50–40–90 club on four separate occasions!
The only thing missing from this eight-time All-Star’s career is the NBA Championship. Nonetheless, according to TwinSpires Edge, he is still one of the best point guards in NBA history.
Well, we say that was missing from his career. We really mean it’s missing from his playing days; in 2017 and 2018 he helped the Golden State Warriors to glory as a consultant. Now he is head coach for the Brooklyn Nets; he may well lift the Championship as a coach in the coming years too.