HE is one of the best small men ever to play in the world’s premier professional basketball stage. And if he can do it, so can Filipinos.
Steve Nash can certainly relate to height-challenged Pinoys, encouraging them to simply follow their hoop dreams no matter their size, believing they will eventually get there with sheer hard work.
“For all those kids who aspire to be in the NBA, I would just say that anything’s possible,” the great playmaker said. “I was a skinny, short kid from the west coast of Canada who had nobody from my neighborhood who played in the NBA. It seemed like it was on the other side of the world and maybe that’s the way it feels to kids here sometimes.”
“I had one scholarship offer,” the Santa Clara product added. “No one would have ever thought I would finish my career in the position I was in.”
The 42-year-old Nash retired with two MVP awards, three All-NBA First Team selections, eight All-Star appearances, and other numerous awards that embellished his illustrious 18-year NBA career.
The Canadian legend is also the shortest player to win the MVP twice, generously listed at 6 feet 3 inches, and is one of only four players of that height or lower to win the NBA’s top individual plum.
“Anything is possible with big dreams, imagination, and hard work,” Nash said, adding kids should also emulate the reigning back-to-back MVP from Golden State. “And if anyone can attest to that, it’s myself and also Steph Curry. I had a big belief and passion for the game, and I was willing to outwork people. And I think the same is true with Steph.”
“So for the majority of the kids who are shorter, rely on your hard work and toughness, and imagination, and skill,” he added. “I would just encourage them to fall in love with the game and practice every day.”
Asked how Gilas Pilipinas can make up for its lack in size, Nash stressed the Philippine national team can take advantage of its speed and agility as he has seen a change in the way the game is being played.
“We see a lot of fours playing the center spot, we’ve seen a lot of really versatile and stretch-fours, playmaking fours become very popular around the game these days, at least in the NBA level,” the Canadian national team general manager explained. “So I think there’s definitely a change where we’ve shown there’s been a blueprint on how to be successful when you don’t have the size.”
“I think that is by thinking and playing quickly, by making quick decisions, by making teams change sides on the floor defensively, making them chase you, making them make quick decisions and force mistakes, and give you opportunities to get in the paint, create breakdowns, and put them in rotations where not only you can get open shots, three-pointers, but you can also get offensive rebounds and negate the height disadvantage,” he concluded.