Steve Nash and Others Pay Tribute to Lionel Messi

Xoel Cardenas@@XoelCardenasContributor IIIJuly 13, 2012

Photo courtesy of http://mundod.lavoz.com.ar
Photo courtesy of http://mundod.lavoz.com.ar

It's the offseason, but Lionel Messi's name keeps coming up and is praised by others in the sports world.

The Los Angeles Lakers got a new teammate for Kobe Bryant last week as Mitch Kupchak brought Steve Nash from the Phoenix Suns to the Staples Center.

Nash, who wore No. 13 at Phoenix, knew he had to select a new number with the Lakers as the No. 13 is retired in honor of the great Wilt Chamberlain. 

So what number did Steve pick?

He picked the number of his football idols like Glen Hoddle, Zinedine Zidane and his favorite player and the best footballer in the world: the No. 10 of Lionel Messi.

At the Lakers' press conference to officially introduced the two-time MVP to the team, Steve Nash said he chose the No. 10 to pay homage to the great 10s in soccer.

While he didn't specifically say Messi's name, we all know who Nash was talking about.

Nash played football as a child even before he started playing basketball. Steve is a lifelong Tottenham Hotspur fan and is a part owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS.

To add more praise of Lionel Messi, Nash once said how much he thinks about Leo's main comeptitor, Cristiano Ronaldo.

"I don't care if Ronaldo can do 6,000 sit-ups, he'll never be better than Messi."

On his Twitter account (@SteveNash), the newest Laker has shown his admiration for Messi as well.

Yoooooo! RT @migerucb: Lionel Messi ● Top 15 Goals 2008-2012 ● Guardiola Era youtu.be/F_x19MDy6SU

— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) July 11, 2012

Nash will have Barça fans to talk to in the locker room in Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Kobe has been a long-time Barça fan and Pau used to play for Barcelona's basketball team, FC Barcelona Basquet, in Spain before heading to the NBA in 2001.

Steve Nash isn't the only athlete who has paid tribute to Lionel Messi in the past few weeks.

In an interview prior to Euro 2012, Schalke 04 and Netherlands national team striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was interviewed by Dutch magazine Elf Voetbal and was asked who he thinks is the best player in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo is good, but Messi is 10 times better.”

Huntelaar later on explained and said “Messi can get around his opponent in just a square meter. Ronaldo needs more space. Messi is just great."

As wonderful as CR7 is, Huntelaar is absolutely right about Messi being able to make thing happen in tight spaces compared to Ronaldo.

Another player to pay tribute to Messi's magic is Leo's Argentine national teammate and Manchester City striker/winger Sergio Aguero.

In a interview on Manchester City's website channel, "citytv", entitled "#asksergio", Sergio was asked who he thinks are the best three strikers in the world.

"Messi, Messi, and Messi."

All joking aside, Kun later said if he had to pick two other strikers, he'd pick Robin Van Persie and CR7. Sergio also dispelled the rumor that Messi is the godfather of his son.

Vicente Del Bosque also admires Lionel Messi and mentioned he'd pick Messi over Ronaldo when asked to pick either player in an interview with Intereconomia's Punto Pelota (Spain).

"Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo? I prefer Messi, because he's more of a street player."

The football pundits of "Punto Pelota", a Real Madrid-biased show, remained very quiet after Del Bosque said that. 

Andy Murray, the Scottish tennis ace and avid FC Barcelona fan, recently paid homage to King Leo when he did Messi's signature "point-up-to-the-sky" celebration after Murray defeated Jo-Wilfired Tsonga in the 2012 Wimbledon semifinals.

According to the Sunday Mirror (UK), Murray has told the website The Tennis Space that he'd want to be Lionel Messi if he could be any other athlete for a day.

This past week, Leo won an ESPY Award for Best International Athlete for 2011-12. Messi beat out Cristiano Ronaldo, tennis star Novak Djokovic and female golfer Yani Tseng for the award.

As well all know, Messi had one of the greatest individual seasons in football history. Messi scored 73 goals, had 29 assists and led his team to four trophies (Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Copa Del Rey) in 2011-12.

Lionel Messi's name continues to be mentioned in the world of sports, even in the offseason. This further shows how great and historical the little Argentine and FC Barcelona player is.

Visca el Barça!

Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on Bleacher Report.

Follow me on Twitter:@XoelCardenas

Don’t forget to check out my other columns:

FC Barcelona: 2012-13 Season Schedule & El Clasico Dates Released

FC Barcelona: 6 Players They'd Pursue if Fans Ran the Team


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