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Nash motivates us to reduce, recycle and pursue our dreams

'It seems pressing that we change our ways,' says the NBA star

Carol Crenna
BC Home Magazine

“Persevering” might be the best word to describe Steve Nash.

It’s the same underlying trait that propelled the Victoria native to NBA stardom and that still keeps him actively involved in tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges – whether it’s raising funds to give underprivileged children an education or personally undertaking the role of educator to teach environmental responsibility.

“We make a huge impact on our planet; it seems pressing that we change our ways,” says Nash, a Team Power Smart leader. “Team Power Smart offers an opportunity to bring people together to improve our environmental education, and set an example for the next generation.”

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Moreover, Nash is involved in ensuring his two namesake organizations, the Steve Nash Foundation and Steve Nash Fitness World and Sports Club, create a relatively small carbon footprint. Some of his gyms, for example, feature bamboo floors and walls, rubber flooring from recycled tires, and energy-generating spinning bikes that help power the club.

Nash scores points at home, too.

“We do little things: we try not to waste water; we use environmentally safe cleaners; and we conserve energy by turning off the lights. And we do big things: I have solar panels on the house in Arizona; I drive a hybrid; and living in New York City in the summer, I don’t drive. I’m not perfect, but I feel like I’ve come a long way.”

Beating the odds to play in the NBA

He has come a long way, and his inspiring journey motivates kids and makes us proud.

It’s been said that the odds of an American high school basketball player making it to the NBA are 7,600 to 1. For a Canadian who didn’t play basketball the year that college scouts recruited, and who only stands 6 feet 1 inch (although official NBA records list him at 6 feet 3 inches), odds were not in Nash’s favour.

Yet he confidently told his mother in high school that he would play in the NBA.

He remembers, “I used to tape NBA games, watch what the players did, and then go into the schoolyard and try to emulate them. After basketball practice, I went back to the gym at 11 p.m. and practiced until 1 a.m.”

One of his coaches said he’d never seen anyone as dedicated to self improvement. Today, that dedication is also found in his efforts to motivate resource-rich British Columbians to conserve.

“Conserving is not about B.C.; it’s about the planet,” he says adamantly. "We need all resources everywhere for everyone, not just for those in B.C.

"We must take a leadership role; the fact that we have a lot of resources should motivate us to conserve them, and to be an example for others.”

Just when you get a little lazy...

Nash is no stranger to being a role model, but he’s still quick to learn from those around him.

“My kids continue to teach me. The other day, I was walking with my six-year-old daughter, and had been carrying a glass bottle for a long while. Since there wasn’t a recycling bin to be found, eventually, I threw it in the garbage.

"My daughter said, “Why did you throw that glass bottle in the garbage?” And I said, “You’re right. Daddy was lazy. I should have held on to it until we got home.”

Setting an example is important to Nash – a result of being constantly challenged and tested. He found it difficult to prove his initial worth to NBA coaches and teammates; he was traded from the Phoenix Suns, where he didn’t get much playing time, to the Dallas Mavericks, where he wasn’t even accepted by the team’s fans.

Nash recalls, “I got booed in Dallas by the whole building during one game. It was the first NBA game that my brother, who was playing professional soccer in England at the time, had watched me play. I was upset, and I looked up at him in the stands, and he was laughing at me.

"His laughter put the situation in perspective – it wasn’t that big a deal. I thought, ‘Not many people get to face this adversity, with this many people wishing you ill will at one time; I have a great opportunity to show them what I can do, and win them over.’ It motivated me to work even harder.”

And, as we all know, the Canadian point guard –  now back with the Phoenix Suns –  has won NBA’s Most Valuable Player twice, and is rivalled only by Wayne Gretzky as Canada’s most celebrated sports hero.

He now takes on other formidable challenges. The Steve Nash Foundation, launched in 2001, works to ensure that children globally have access to nutrition, clean water, schooling and a safe environment.

”It’s all about kids; whoever and wherever they are. It focuses on reducing variables that prevent kids from having their basic human rights or living a life that will allow them to reach their goals.”

And his legacy for his own children? “I want them to feel loved, supported and secure. Growing up with a stable base allows them to become engaged and active citizens who want to do their part and to follow their dreams. If I can help to create that feeling to be able to deal with life’s ups and downs, that would be my legacy.”

He adds playfully, “My twin girls aren’t interested in sports yet, but that will come; I don’t want to push them.”

Although there are goals that still elude him – he’d like to be on a championship team – he’s got ambition to reach greater heights, along with the Canadian modesty to keep his feet planted firmly on the ground.

How does Nash view success?

“Happiness and balance. Basketball is a big part of my life, but that’s because it gives me something to focus on, challenge myself with, and grow from. I’m always learning about myself through playing it. I feel that I’m ‘successful’ only because it gives me great fulfilment and happiness.”

This story originally appeared in BC Home Magazine: Team Power Smart Edition, which was sent free to Team Power Smart members earlier this year.