Justin Bieber was just doing his thing: a quick shimmy that made a girl swoon.
Bieber somehow got into a lockout pickup game with Steve Nash (how this travesty did not produce a quicker resolution to that conflict, I will never understand).
On the particular play in question, Bieber crossed over Steve Nash—please tell me that I never have to write that line ever again—and finished with a high arching layup that, under the circumstances, was downright Nashty.
His girlfriend, Selena Gomez, quickly posted the exploit to YouTube.
Bieber didn’t break Nash’s ankles, but he nearly broke my heart. I also wondered what the universe was trying to tell me, since just months earlier, at my wedding, my American priest, who doesn’t know many Canadians, had compared me to both Nash and Bieber in the homily (I kid you not).
The Nash reference resonated more.
Steve Nash is Canadian; I’m Canadian. Steve Nash is 38; I’m on his heels in the midlife run. Steve Nash used to have long floppy hair that he pulled behind his ears; that's the antiquated look that I am currently rocking.
Steve Nash is a two-time NBA MVP. I have long, floppy hair.
Yeah, so like all analogies, the comparison breaks down at a certain point, but Steve Nash has been such an important part of my family life that he is like, well, family.
Whenever I get back to Canada during an NBA season, there are a couple of things I can count on: I will be shoveling, and my dad and I will get together to watch some Phoenix Suns basketball on television.
Through the prism of unconditional love, and perhaps encroaching senility, my dad seems to think that I was a poor man’s version of Steve Nash in my playing days.
Indeed, when I’m wearing my “Nash is My Homeboy” t-shirt, people do a double-take.
I prefer to think it is because of the Canadian dimes I drop in the passing lane, and not my long, floppy hair.
In truth, though, my playing days are done, which is why I screamed out “Baby, Baby, Baby, No!” at the scene of that Canadian-on-Canadian crime.
Is Nash done, too? I thought. Is that it? Is the NBA going to disband over irreconcilable greed, and the last Nash basketball play I ever get to see will be a teenage crooner going all Rondo on my man?
David Stern should be receiving my fruit basket any time now.
Well, that’s fine. It will be a package deal.
I would hate to leave Phoenix. I liked them back when Kevin Johnson was dunking on Mark Eaton. But if he goes, I go.
And I have news for you: Nash's career and his playing excellence are not going to end anytime soon—Bieber blow-bys notwithstanding.
Here’s how I know.
When Nash started his NBA career, he was a twenty-something going on 40. He was always below the rim, even when he had something resembling hops. He was ahead of the veteran curve before Jordan ever started that elbow-jab fade-away to make up for his diminishing lift.
Nash goes under centers on layups, so don’t worry about worn out springs.
It also takes absolute precision timing to get defensive hands on one of those off-balance, one-foot side-fades.
He still swooshes those so frequently that the ball would puncture out of shock if it grazed any rim.
Steve Nash may be hanging with teenagers in pickup games, but there is nothing Twilight about this stage of his career. I’m not saying he’s necessarily going to finish in Phoenix, though I think he will.
He doesn’t have another decade in him. But he does have a good two years left, at least.
Wherever he plays, he is going to make teammates better, and he will dazzle with that same old man’s game he has been perfecting since childhood. (Jared Dudley will continue the tradition in Phoenix of below-the-rim savvy.)
Steve Nash and Grant Hill might have some mounting AARP membership offers, but make no mistake about it, those two are going to take some kids to school this year.
And Bieber, I’m telling you kid, if I see you on the court, school is in session. Oh Canada!