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Steve Nash: in a league and a headspace of his own

By: Tamara Petrou

Steve Nash hesitates a moment between the visitors' locker room and the media pack that awaits him, one morning before a late season match-up with the NBA’s top team, Dallas Mavericks.

Victoria, B.C.'s basketball boy wonder hangs back to answer journalists’ questions about the potential playoff meeting with the Mavs – and more importantly to ask the two-time MVP about what exactly it takes to think like a winner in today's NBA.

“I think a winner’s mentality is just having a great attitude, not letting things get you too up or too down," says Nash as he stands at the doorstep of another playoff run. "Just approaching every play the same way. And really being consistent with your effort and focus.”

Winning a third straight MVP title would place Nash into an elite winner's circle that few have entered. But he is not anxious to speculate or get ahead of himself as the Suns take a long, hard look at the Western Conference playoff road ahead -- before getting to the NBA championship final.

Regardless of what lies ahead, though, Nash is already, it seems, in a league - and a headspace - of his own: serene, unflappable and always positive, whether carrying the weight of his team's championship hopes or simply savouring life just one day at a time, thank you very much.


Talk to Nash about basketball for even a few minutes and you soon realize that you are getting more than the shrink-wrapped jock talk that passes for insight today. With Nash, you come away with an inspiring life lesson on the merits of playing it calm, collected and West Coast cool at all times, baby.


This laid-back-and-then-some approach to his game - and his life - comes to the surface yet again at season's end as the Dallas media deluge Nash with questions following the Suns' double-overtime win over the Mavericks.


"We could have come back from losing this game and been fine", says Nash, who seems to embrace the hysteria without getting swept up by it.


It's a far cry, perhaps, from Maverick and 2007 MVP rival Dirk Nowitzki, who would later lament that he had trouble sleeping for two nights after this loss to the Suns, calling it "one of the toughest regular season losses that I’ve ever had in my career".


For Nash, it's all about keeping an even keel at all times. All times.


“I just stick to my routine," he insists. "I mentally try not to think too much or prepare too much. My preparation mentally is to just kind of switch off and not think about things and just relax. I try to have as much fun and be as ready, as clear, mentally, as possible. And physically, I just try to get my rest, have a good practice in the morning and get warmed up for the game and get ready to go.”


And when that game plan is faltering?


“You just play hard and compete - and you try to have a good attitude", he explains. "If things don’t go well, it’s easy to get frustrated or angry or whatever it may be. But if you just keep your emotions in check and try not to worry about the next play, and have a positive attitude, then you have a chance for things to turn around. But I think if you get out of your rhythm and routine because of a bad quarter or half, then you really negate the opportunity to turn it around.”


Work hard. Compete. Win.  But along the way - and whatever the outcome - attitude is everything. The Nash mentality? Always go for the win in life or at play - but, hey, just don't get too bent out of shape along the way.


“I just try to enjoy my life and be in the moment," he says. "You know I don’t want to sound like I’m the Dalai Lama or something but I just try to enjoy things. There are a lot of great things to be proud of and enjoy in life regardless of the outcome of basketball games.”

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