Steve Nash Q&A: 'I Wish I Could Have One More Chance'

Yaron Weitzman@YaronWeitzmanFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2017

Two-time NBA most valuable player Steve Nash is introduced into the Suns Ring of Fire at halftime of an NBA basketball game between the Phoenix Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

He's 43 and has been retired from the NBA for two years, yet Steve Nash looks like he could still play.

These days, though, Nash is worried about other things. For one, there's his annual soccer game that will take place a few weeks after this conversation. He also has his production company and a consulting gig with the Golden State Warriors.

So what's life like for a two-time MVP once he steps away from center stage? For starters, he realizes he hasn't truly escaped the spotlight. "I do know him," he says after a man taps him on the shoulder while sitting down with Bleacher Report at The Gem Saloon, his New York City bar. "But that happens every day with people I don't know or remember."

For Nash, a full escape may not be possible, but his focus nowadays is less on basketball than ever before. He's still able to reflect on his days in the league—and how he wishes he had one last shot at a title—but he's done what every athlete before him has done and what everyone after will do: He's moved on and has shifted his focus elsewhere to kick the "obsession" that is the sport that made him a star.  

Bleacher Report: Do you play ball anymore?

Steve Nash: No.

B/R: When was the last time you played?

SN: I was with the Warriors one day this week, I took a few shots, but it's not like I go to the park and play. I mean, if the ball's there, I may take a couple of shots—it's not like I haven't picked up a ball from time to time—but I never go with the purpose to play.

B/R: That seems like a hard thing to do, to kick that addiction.

SN: It's an obsession, but I think I put myself in other things. I love to play soccer, I'm learning tennis and I'm learning beach volleyball where I live in California. It's cool to challenge myself to learn new things as opposed to going to play basketball in the park for millionth time.

B/R: You've been quoted before as saying that professional athletes die twice.

SN: It's an adage that's been said for generations, and for the most part, it's true. But athletes, for the most part, retire young. If you're a successful athlete and you build your life around your career, which you have to do do be that successful, you still have balance. But the majority of that is built around that pursuit, and that can be very dangerous. If you don't shed that and stop carrying it with you, you'll never become whole again because you're always in two worlds. So I think it rings true that an athlete dies twice, and I'm definitely comfortable with where I am, but it took me two years to kind of shed the majority of that and move on.

B/R: So, was there a low point for you?

SN: There wasn't really a lowest point, but there were definitely low moments, where you're like, "Wow." So, for example, a quiet moment in the day and you feel something missing and you realize, "I'm never going to drive downtown and play in front of 19,000 people again." I've been doing that every night for about 20 years—that's a lot to say goodbye to. All those other things, the teammates, the road and most importantly the pursuit of being the best you can be. If you commit to that, that's a passion that is really hard to manufacture or recreate.

B/R: How long did it take you to get to that point?

SN: I feel like it was two years, which I think was kind of training camp this season, wasn't it? Like six-to-eight months ago, I started feeling better about this.

B/R: What was the difference?

SN: Time. Time and listening to yourself. You have to be aware. I think a lot of athletes—and I'm not saying I'm smarter than other athletes—I just think a lot of athletes, and a lot of men, will deny it. They'll be like, "I'm done, I'm retired." For me, I was lucky to have great people around.

B/R: Like who?

SN: Just people you come across. Friends, family, coaches, other players, mentors.

B/R: The last competitive game of basketball you played was…?

SN: Lakers training camp, in 2014.

EL SEGUNDO, CA - MARCH 24: Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to the media during a press conference announcing his retirement from the NBA at Toyota Sports Center on March 24, 2015 in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

B/R: Fine, when's the last time you went to shoot?

SN: It's tough. I mean, like I said, if I happen to be somewhere where a ball rolls out to me, I'll shoot, but I never go anywhere with the purpose of doing it. I'm not really interested in that anymore. I still love the game, love to be a part of it; I just follow it in my own way.

B/R: Why?

SN: That's a good question. I guess after I put so much into it for so long—since I was 13 years old, I shot obsessively and worked on my game, all for the reason of reaching my best and playing against the best. Now that that's gone, it doesn't excite me anymore. What really excited me at the end was the challenge of being the best I can be and prolonging my best level and playing against the best players in the world. But now that I don't have the opportunity to play against the best players in the world when it counts, in front of fans, it doesn't excite me as much.

B/R: Are you watching the playoffs?

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12:  NBA legend, Steve Nash and Klay Thompson #11 with Bruce Fraser of the Golden State Warriors celebrate with the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the locker room after winning the NBA Championsip in Game Five of the 2017 NBA Finals against th
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

SN: I like watching; my stamina's not great with it, though. I watch the Warriors because I'm involved with them and I love their team. But the reality is I don't really watch full games, I just kind of follow and watch bits and pieces. So it's probably bad for me to admit this, but I don't watch a ton other than the Warriors. And even with them, I don't watch all their games, though I do as much as I can. I think I have a pretty good feel for them, though. I also think it's important for me in my role to be the person who has an outside view of the Warriors and not be in the forest with the same unlimited amount of data and intimacy that they all have. I can come in from 30,000 feet, provide that view—like, "Don't forget a fundamental thing here that you created, Steve Kerr."

B/R: Do you have an example?

SN: Not really. It's just that you're in the eye of the storm when you're a head coach. You have the management team, coaching staff, film staff, analytics team, training staff and playing team, and you're trying to manage all that and it's overwhelming. And then you have the media responsibilities. I don't know that I help at all, but I would think my value would be to help provide more of a clear-headed view from the outside. It's not like I have huge opinions, but I do have my point of view and perspective, and it's different because I'm not there.

B/R: So what's a typical day for you now?

SN: I definitely work out or at least am active in some capacity every day. I wake the kids up, make them breakfast. I'm the take-them-to-school-pick-them-up dad, and when I'm not dealing with the kids or working out, I'll work on my production company. Among a lot of other things, that's my main focus at this point of time.

B/R: Your go-to breakfast dish is…?

SN: I'm very limited. Scrambled eggs, avocado toast. If we're in a real rush, it gets even more simple.

B/R: You were always one of the most outspoken athletes from a political standpoint. So today, where there's sort of this political charge going through the country, do you kind of regret that you're no longer in the NBA with this platform?

SN: I have no problem standing up—the only reason I don't do more is because, like all of us, we have busy lives. But I think I'm pretty honest and open, and I guess I could sit there all day and tweet about denying climate changeand I probably should, that probably should be the No. 1 priority of all of usbut the reality is you also have to have enough energy to make your kids breakfast and get through the day. I really respect those people who are very vocal. I'm happy to share my opinion and stand up for things—I think I dobut that being said, a lot of people are pissed at me that they don't have enough of my time, including my mom.

B/R: As you watch the NBA now, and the way basketball is played, do you sit back and feel proud that you sort of helped usher in this change of style?

SN: That's really cool, and I'm proud of it, but I don't really approach it that way. I'm never saying, "Wow, look, they're doing what I did back in my day." I think these guys are amazing; I don't take any credit for anything. I don't really sit and bask at all. That's not fun for me and not interesting. I'm more interested in seeing what these guys are doing. I think it's amazing.

B/R: What was cool about watching you play was how that style also seemed to be an extension of your personality.

SN: It fit, it was the way I wanted to play. I think part of that was Mike [D'Antoni]'s plan, and part of it was Mike letting me be me. I think that was a major part of Mike's genius, knowing when to step out of the way. That's hard for coaches because you have a lot of pressure on you and you have to justify your position and salary. And Mike was brilliant, and he helped me and our team a lot, but at times he was also like, "I don't need to do s--t right now." And sometimes that's more brilliant than constantly stepping in, you know. So I have a lot of respect for Mike in a lot of ways, and that's one of them.

The waiter brings Nash a third beer.

B/R: The beers don't exactly gel with your super-fit lifestyle.

SN: They've always had a little place in my life. That's part of my motivation for being so strict with my diet—I say no to ice cream and cookies, but I can have a glass of wine or beer every once in awhile.

B/R: Ever take a wine bath with Amar'e [Stoudemire]?

SN: [Laughs] I think that started after our time together.

PHOENIX - MAY 25:  Amar'e Stoudemire #1 and Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns react to a play against the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 25,
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

B/R: Does not winning a title eat at you?

SN: I mean, it's not fun. I wish we did win one, but at the same time, you get one life. My life is amazing. In the grand scheme of things, I moved on. I hold my hand up and say, "I didn't do it, I needed to be a little better to do it." Other than that, I realize how lucky I was to get where I got, and I enjoyed being a part of those teams. Yeah, I wish I could have one more chance, but I can't, so I enjoy watching the guys go through it now. 

B/R Do players actually care about that stuff as much as fans and media do?

SN: I mean, it sucks not doing it. As for fans, they're paramount to the business and have their perspective, but you still have to live your life and be a person. I think that's hard sometimes for a fan to realize. Yeah, you didn't win a championship, but that's in the context of one part of your life—and it's a team sport. Chris Paul is an amazing, amazing player, one of the greatest players to ever play the game. And, I mean, is him not making the conference finals ever all on Chris Paul? And other guys: [Charles] Barkley, John Stockton, not everyone can win. There's one winner every year, and it comes down to organizations and teams. And honestly, I think everyone would admit this: It comes down to luck, who gets the bounces. Yes, you make your own luck in life, so I'm not criticizing anyone—and I'm not even talking about myself for thatbut I mean, every year, look at the team that wins. You can't control everything in a team sport. So I'm not going to cry about it, but yeah, there are moments where I'm like, "F--k." But I say it almost in an appreciative way, in a way where I realize it's great not everyone can do it. I wasn't fortunate enough to do it, but that's what makes winning a title so special.

          

Yaron Weitzman covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @YaronWeitzman, and listen to his Knicks-themed podcast here.