Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Steve Nash: Canadian basketball superstar with a conscience.

Well, now, in an NBA full of puff daddy, gangsta rap, full-body tattooed, fan-slugging, barely articulate, bling-bling felonies looking for a place to happen, isn't this an interesting change of pace?

Steve Nash, the straggly haired point guard for the Phoenix Suns, has likely done enough on the court this season to merit consideration for the National Basketball Association's Most Valuable Player Award.

The Canadian has helped coax greatness from teammates Amare Stoudamire and Shawn Marion, has himself averaged 15.6 points and a league-best 11.5 assists heading into last night's game against Denver and has quarterbacked the Suns to the league's best record.

And with that kind of star power, you'd think he'd be fighting off endorsement offers with a stick, wouldn't you? Guess again.

Nash is far from being a marketer's dream.

While many of his NBA peers favour the likes of Vibe magazine, Nash reportedly has read the autobiography of Che Guevara and to get a better idea where the Cuban revolutionary was coming from, he also turned to Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto.

And while other NBA stars couldn't point out Iraq on a map, Nash was scorned during the 2003 all-star break when he showed up with a T-shirt that read, "No War. Shoot for Peace."

"I'm not embarrassed by America," Nash said at the time. "I'm embarrassed by humanity. More than embarrassed, I think it's really unfortunate in the year 2003 that we're still using violence as a means of conflict resolution. That's what I'm speaking out against."

What a refreshing change from image-obsessed wankers like Shaq "Diesel" Daddy:

Many corporate sponsors prefer the safety of glib remarks like O'Neal's crack: "I'm tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money.I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok."

Yes, whenever you need an utterly shallow, superficial observation on life, you can always count on Shaq, can't you? (This is the man who, having toured Greece as a college student playing basketball, was asked sometime later by a reporter whether he visited the Parthenon and replied, "I can't remember the names of all the clubs we went to.")

And, of course, for pure capitalism, it's hard to top His Airness Michael Jordan who, despite being arguably the most powerful and influential figure in sports at his peak, refused to support black senatorial candidate Harvey Gantt in his campaign against the rancid Jesse Helms, explaining, "Republicans buy shoes, too."

Attaboy, Michael. It's nice to know where your priorities lie. If you ever decide to grow up, you can always take a lesson from Steve. He'd make a pretty good role model.

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