With Steve Nash winning the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award, we may have hit a point of no return in Canadian sports. This could have more of an impact on us than when we almost scored a goal in the 1986 World Cup, or when a Canadian luger finished eighth in the Albertville Olympics. Okay, all kidding aside, this is colossal! Nash has done the near impossible – the unfathomable. A skinny, soccer loving kid from Victoria, with a solitary scholarship offer to his name, has not only taken the game of Jordan, Bird and Magic by storm – he has dominated it. And if you think the effect it has on us today is huge, just look ahead at what it has done to the generation to come. Step inside and peer into the BBM’s crystal ball.
(Cue funky, wavy music)
The year 2025. Canada, aka “The Great White North”, is still world renowned for its beer, manners and basketball. Wait… basketball? Hockey, that once-dominant sport, is now a thing of the past. Basketball litters the streets and driveways of Canadian cities. The blacktop is the new backyard pond. The sound of a bouncing ball echoes from Vancouver to Cornerbrook and every kid, young and old, Black, White or Asian sports a Steve Nash moptop. Goodbye mullet, hello shaggy, reckless ‘do. Ahh, Steve Nash. Twenty years ago his MVP title rallied a nation together under the umbrella of basketball. Fathers took away their kids’ hockey sticks and immediately stuck a pair of baggy shorts on them and taught them bounce passes and hook shots. The epoch of roundball is upon us. Not to mention the allure of landing hot, Spice Girl-quality babes.
During Nash’s MVP season, he was one of only two canucks in the Association. Now, the NBA is made up of nearly 35% Canadians and expansion has blossomed north of the 49th with the ushering in of the Winnipeg Wheat, the Regina Freeze (oh do they hate the Heat) and the Halifax Schooners. In fact, in a dose of sweet Nordique revenge, Quebec even stole the Nuggets away from the Mile High City. And back by popular demand… the Vancouver Grizzlies, who went on to win four consecutive titles under coach and general manager Rick Fox.
Basketball has become so beloved that Prime Minister Magloire went so far as to put James Naismith on the twenty dollar bill. What’s that you ask? Prime Minister Jamaal Magloire? You got it Chester. After leading the Canadian side to back to back Olympic gold medals (lest we forget the controversial technical foul call leading to a never accepted silver in 2016), Jamaal became the country’s most cherished hero. Wayne Gretzky renamed two of his kids after him!
Our schoolyards are full of Caswell Cyrus throwback jerseys and Carl English signature series sneakers. In the thick of it all, Toronto, the hoops hotbed, is the most competitive centre on earth. Teenagers hoping to make the jump from high school to the big time come from all over to play for Bathurst Heights, Eastern Commerce and even York Mills Collegiate. Local ball in the T-dot has more talent than the Italian and Spanish leagues combined!
Not to mention Rucker Park. Yeah, that Rucker Park. After watching two of the most jaw-rattling street games known to man, Nike CEO Phil Knight bought Harlem’s Rucker Park, dug it up and had it moved to Newfoundland, home of the world’s most fierce, playground battles. Hey, if they can build a McDonald’s at Mecca, they can move Rucker to the Rock!
And again, it’s all thanks to number thirteen. Why? Cause no kid wants the highlight dunk. Nobody cares about dropping fifty points and losing. It’s all about the team. Ain’t no “I” in team? Ain’t one in “Canada” either. Every youngster wants to play the game the right way, the Nash way.
Steve Nash ushered in an era like no other. The point guard reverted back to its original form. No more brick-chucking, flash happy guards of the grunge 90’s. Today, the point is as important as the bacon in a BLT. Take out the point guard and it’s just a veggie sandwich. No thanks.
Nash’s MVP season is the Canadian equivalent of the moon landing (except we didn’t fake it). Not since the advent of the ‘Lollipop Guild’ have so many undersized and previously ignored folks had the inspiration to pull up their tiny boots and follow their hero all the way to Emerald City, aka The League. So the next time someone turns to you and says, “Hey, Nashie winning the MVP was pretty big huh”, you can clue them into the future and respond, “Dude, you have no idea”.