Former Dallas Mavericks All-Star point guard Steve Nash finished in second place this past Sunday in the Dirk Nowitzki Pro Celebrity Tennis Tournament at SMU.
Nash, whose fifth child was born 11 months ago, granted an exclusive interview with Mavs.com prior to the sold-out tournament. Currently a player development consultant for the Golden State Warriors and a senior adviser for the Canadian men’s national team, Nash said he’s impressed with the roster the Mavs have put together.
Nash, 45, discussed a number of subjects with Mavs.com while he was back in his old stomping grounds to help support Nowitzki’s fundraiser.
MAVS.COM: What brings you joy now that you haven’t played in the NBA since the 2014-’15 season?
NASH: First of all, we had my fifth child, so my life is basically built around being a stay-at-home dad. I’m just doing a bunch of things I’m passionate about when the kids are at school or whenever I can find the time to take care of all of it.
MAVS.COM: How will the Warriors be this season after losing Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston over the offseason, and also being without the injured Klay Thompson for over half of the season?
NASH: We’ll have to see all the new players and what state, fitness and health they’re in and how they can come together. I don’t think anyone can make any claims yet, but the goal is to be a really competitive team and surprise some people.
MAVS.COM: What’s your impression of the new-look Mavs with Kristaps Porzingis joining forces with Luka Doncic to make what should be a devastating one-two punch?
NASH: I think it’s a super exciting time to be a Mavericks fan and to play and work for the Mavericks. You’ve got two players that are incredible difference-makers, if they can form a bond and a chemistry and an understanding. They both fit the modern game extremely well, you have some talented players around them as well, some role players that are happy with their role and they can exceed expectations at their role and not necessarily feel like they need more, which could kill a chemistry, kill a team and its chemistry. Its going to be exciting to watch them develop together this year.
MAVS.COM: You played for the Mavs from 1998-2004 and was selected to the All-Star team twice while you were with the Mavs. How special it for you to be back in Dallas for Dirk Nowitzki’s pro celebrity tennis tournament?
NASH: It’s awesome. It makes me feel old a little bit to come back and see how much the city has grown, and the development. Then you start to reminisce about all the little corners of town that you spent time in. It is an incredible feeling — even though 21 years after I got here — for people to still stop me on the streets and to be so kind. It definitely was a really influential and exciting time in my career.
MAVS.COM: A lot of fans don’t know this, but you and Nowitzki both came to the Mavs on the same day – June 24, 1998. You came via a trade from the Phoenix Suns, and Nowitzki came via a pre-arranged trade with the Milwaukee Bucks. Mavs coach/general manager Don Nelson had his eyes set on Nowitzki in the draft, passing up Kansas All-American Paul Pierce in the process. But Nowitzki had thoughts of going back to Germany and playing for at least another year before coming to the NBA. Do you recall that story?
NASH: There was a press conference that was either in Reunion Arena or in the Landry Center. We went over to Nelle’s house for a little party. And the word from (assistant coach) Donnie (Nelson) and Nellie was, ‘Come on. Recruit this guy,’ because he was going to stay in Germany for a year,’ so I tried to strike a friendship with him. He was so young and kind of shell-shocked by everything that had changed in his life from that six months since the Hoop Summit (in San Antonio) to the draft and a little bit before that. Then we had the lockout. In the end he ended up coming over right away and we got to form a friendship and a bond on and off the court, and then we kind of climbed the ranks from a place where people were pretty low on us at the start. And we got ourselves in a position where people believed in us.
MAVS.COM: In your wildest imagination, did you think Nowitzki would blossom into becoming a 14-time All-Star, the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2007, and the No. 6-leading scorer in NBA history?
NASH: I don’t really think you can ever say a guy is going to win MVP, especially when he doesn’t come into the league with an immense reputation. I thought he could be an All-Star for sure, but I didn’t know he would go down as one of the all-time greats. He truly has become an historic player, not only for the Mavericks, but in the history of the game. Now, in a sense, it’s conceivable because of all the hard work he put in and you watched him progress year after year. But I know at the start I think it’s impossible to say, ’Yeah, I thought he would have the career he had because he was so unheralded.’
MAVS.COM: What’s your fondest memory playing alongside Nowitzki?
NASH: On the court, it all blends into one. It’s all like one big long game. But I think the friendship, the times spent, whether it’ll be going back to the Landry Center or the American Airlines Center late at night and pushing each other to get better. Or if it’ll be going to Wurzburg (Germany) in the summer of him coming to Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) in the summer. All those things that are bigger than basketball – getting to know his family and his roots, and him coming and meeting all my friends and family — those memories, I think, are what will have us be friends for the rest of our life. Although the basketball was great, at the end of the day it was a real small part of who we are.
MAVS.COM: What are your thoughts on all the accolades coming Nowitzki’s way since he announced his retirement back in April?
NASH: He’s got the key to the city, he’s got Nowitzki Day, he’s got a street named after him. I’m sure there’s a statue coming, so nothing surprises me. He’s earned it all, so I’m excited for him. It’s a fitting cap to an incredible career.
MAVS.COM: From your perspective, how do you sum up the 21 years Nowitzki was able to play in the NBA?
NASH: The way he was moving you knew he was going to retire sooner or later. But that’s the thing. He put his heart and soul into the game, and he put his body in a state that made it impossible to continue, in a sense, at least to play the way he wants to play. So you have nothing but admiration and respect for how much he gave to the game to keep himself at the highest level for as long as he could to accomplish everything he did and go down as one of the greatest players of all time. It’s just an unbelievable story and career and I’m super proud to say I was there to witness some of it.