"And on the 2,559015th day, God saw Nash and said that he was good" (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

I'm back with another episode of "What the Suns!?" where we track and collect every and anything we can about what our Phoenix Suns players are doing during the off-season and especially now during the lockout!  In today's episode we're going to dive into the hectic and fluid meanderings of Steve Nash - the face of the franchise.

Steve is a basketball god.  He's omniscient on the court having led the league in assists for the past two years even at age 53, he's omnipotent in the pick and roll and from basically anywhere on the court when his pelvic instability isn't flaring up - and the fool is omnipresent on and off the court.  HE'S EVERYWHERE.  I doubt Steve sleeps.  One minute he's in New York hosting some charity event, the next he's playing basketball at a local street park in Phoenix, and then all of sudden he's having the Mayor of Winnipeg hand him a key to the city and then later that night he's running in a speedo on the beach in San Diego.  Although that last part might be a fabrication of imagination the general point is true.  Steve is a busy man.

What the Steve Nash!?

So let's take a look at the things he's been doing - I've broken it down like usual.  We'll take a look at what he's doing for basketball, for charity and for fun or whatever else.   But since there is so much info on Steve, it's going to be more of a link dump.  Enjoy.

WHAT THE BASKETBALL!?:

  • Nursing his Injury - Steve doesn't usually play a lot of basketball in the off-season, if any at all. Granted, there is no doubt he stays in shape - he just doesn't do the young guy Jared Dudley thing and participate in intense pick-ups and basketball drills everyday.    This year he's especially avoided basketball since he's still been nursing his awesome 'pelvic instability' injury, yeah did you all forget about his groin problems?  Such a weird injury.  Though he has said himself - he has just arrived at a point where he can now train and play basketball everyday without catering to the weak flesh. On Canadian radio station Steve said of his physical training and mental preparation, "I don’t have the frame of mind that we’re going to go back to work late or in December or whatever. And at my age, I’ve decided for the last five or six years that I don’t take time off, because I feel like it’s a dangerous territory to enter when you get older. So I stay in shape, I don’t play a lot of basketball, this summer I’ve been doing a lot of rehabbing an injury. And I feel great so I’m definitely getting into that space where I want to go to camp October 1st. That may or may not happen, but that’s my frame of mind." [ Canada Radio ]
  • Not Playing for Canadian National team - It seems like every year the Canadians are surprised and then angry because Nash doesn't play for the national team... it's not like he's played for them in the last 3 years.  Or 5 years.  Or 7 years.  Here's what Nash said in response to those who were critical of him, " "Well I appreciated the passion some people on Twitter had for the program. They want to see the program do well, so they were disappointed I didn’t play; and I wanted to tell them why I didn’t play. It’s simple. A lot of people said ‘oh, well he doesn’t deserve a pass.’ Absolutely not, I don’t deserve a pass. I’m not above that. I made a really tough decision seven years ago to retire from the National Team, Mark Cuban didn’t re-sign me because he thought I was about to combust and my career would be over any day now. I was carrying injuries through every season, I was carrying injuries every summer with the National Team and doing it year after year for the better part of 13 years since I was 16, 17 years old, and something had to give. I thought, ‘I’m 30 years old, do I want to continue playing year round and my career could possibly be over in a year or two, or my value be gone? Or do I want to make a decision and try to play as long as I can?’ That’s the decision I made, and at the time people said ‘thanks for your 13 years of service busting your butt around the world with a bad back. The National Team was the greatest experience of my career. This summer, the truth is I couldn’t have played anyway rehabbing my pelvic instability, but to be fair, it really wasn’t even on my radar because I had retired so long ago. And I have only gotten to the stage now where I could start training basketball-wise everyday." [Canada RadioADDITIONALLY - Steve said, "At some point, I’ll definitely be part of the program, I’m not sure what capacity yet and I’m not sure when, but this is my country and this is my program. I spent 13 years as part of it, and I’d like to be a bigger part of it, in a bigger role at some point, when the time is right … not just so that we can make Olympic Games, but so we can get kids playing the sport and learning and growing and participating and improving their lifestyle." [ The Globe and Mail ]
  • Nash on the Lockout- "Bla bla bla I hope we can negotiate" blblalballblub
  • Nash Calls out Sarver... Sort of - Just check out 7footer's post or the regional blurb. [ SBNAZ BSotS
  • Nash Crossed-over by Justin Bieber  - Obviously he's not playing any defense this off-season.  Or ever.  I tease.  But seriously.  [ Coro ]
  • Nash Organized Informal Workouts with Teammates - Earlier this September a group of players including Dudley, Warrick, Childress, Lawal and Frye were ringed together by Nash in San Diego to get some shots up and play some pick-up games. [ Coro ]

WHAT THE CHARITY!?:

  • Showdown in Chinatown - on June 24th, Nash's annual soccer charity event was a hit.  As usual. I'm sure they raised a ton of funds which will benefit Steve's Educare program and the Claudio Reyna Foundation, which supports underprivileged youth through education and sports. [ Recap ]
  • Educare Arizona - New facility opened in AZ and a new school year starts for Nash's early development schools all around the nation.  Steve also announced a new 'mobile giving campaign' for Educare.  You might have seen him tweeting about it this summer.  It's an easy way for people to get involved with his Educare program by simply text messaging a number and a donation is added to the donor's phone bill. [ Educare ]
  • Steve Gets a Key to Winnipeg - Mayor Sam Katz handed Steve the key, recognizing 'Two-Time' "for his commitment to improving circumstances and creating opportunities for children living in poverty, or with illness, abuse or neglect." [ cbcsports.ca ]
  • Nash Received the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation's 2011 International Award - basically for all the amazing things that his foundation (The Steve Nash Foundation) does.  Take a look, you'd be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at all the things charity-wise he's involved in. [ St.Boniface Hospital ] Before receiving the award, Nash held a clinic about health and nutrition for athlete's at the University of Manitoba. [ source ]

WHAT THE BUSINESS!?:

"I really want to set myself up so I have options in fields that I’m passionate about for when I'm not playing basketball anymore"  - Steve's got a ton of endorsement work that he does... but he's been busy this summer growing his own babies.

  • Liquid Nutrition - Steve Nash opened the Toronto Market in honor of the launch of his new company Liquid Nutrition which is basically a healthy smoothie company.  Think an even healthier... Jamba Juice?  Something like that.  Peep this video - [ TMX Opening ]
  • Steve Nash Fitness World & Sports Clubs - Nash is definitely keeping himself busy with promos and marketing crap for his health spas.  Take a look if you're really interested. [ Website

WHAT THE FUN & MISCELLANEOUS!?:

  • If you live under a rock and you haven't heard - Nash has a girlfriend who travels with him just about everywhere. Her name is Brittany Richardson.  I won't follow her on twitter so I don't know much about her except that she's young, pretty good looking, and probably parrots any and everything the wise Steve tells her. [ More Details on the GF ]

On an extremely slanted side note... not sure what to make of this as a Phoenix Suns fan - women are tricky things my young friends of the Bright Side, and you experienced guys know what I'm talking about.  He's recently divorced... and this girl is something like 15 years younger than Steve, as a Bro, I say "nice".  As a fan worried about his team I say, this could be bad news. Maybe you don't know where I'm going with this so let me be blunt.  Where is Steve at emotionally.  I'm not talking about what he shows us, I'm talking about in his head, the underbelly of human existence, the dark depths of introspection. 

Am I the only one who's noticed that since his divorce Steve has been a bit more of a loose canon and a party animal?  I mean in his post-game interviews last season there were times where he was more open and blunt with his feelings than we've grown accustomed to over the years.  It's usually been a mellow Nash with a low monotonous cookie-cutter middle-of-the road response.  More often that in the past we saw Nash viciously jawing at officials and demonstratively expressing his disgust with calls.  Then we've got tweets about "Sunglasses and Advil.  Last night was mad real." and about him hitting the club and whatnot. I wouldn't think twice about him living it up and partying all night if it weren't for a few things.  1) it's Steve Nash. 2) He's 37 years old with a bad back and some crazy thing called pelvic instability. Oh and P.S. - he's the best player on our team at 37 years old with a bad back and groinal problems.  WTF. 

I'm starting to wonder how that whole groin thing actually came about... but anyways, this rant is a lot longer than I originally intended so lets end it at that.  I've got a crooked eye on you Brittany.  I don't know how you correlate exactly to anything I've written in this paragraph but I'm hoping that sour smell I'm faintly smelling is just Boris Diaw eating a cold Taco Bell Chalupa that he found under the couch...

  • Are you Nash enough? Vitamin Water contest video - somebody's going to win the prize of being in the next quirky Vitamin Water commercial with your boy Derek Nashlander. [Coro - Business Journal]
  • Thoughts on Vancouver Riots - Earlier in the summer when the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup Finals in game 7, peeps started rioting in Vancouver.  Here are his thoughts on that, "Yeah, obviously the series was disappointing, but at the same time, the guys played great, they brought a lot of excitement to the city and just couldn’t quite turn the corner in the Finals. But the rioting thing was just a crazy situation. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful, peaceful cities in the world, and then all of a sudden, every time we lose the Stanley Cup Finals we turn into monsters. But it’s not Canucks fans, it’s opportunists that put on a Canucks jersey and go downtown and take it as an opportunity to get out their frustrations or whatever they’re expressing. But Vancouver is still a great city, it was a disappointing moment but we’ll rebound from it. And I think the Canucks will be great again this year so we’re looking forward to it." [Canada Radio]
  • Hope Solo Takes down Steve in FIFA 12 - He's sort of like a Gorilla and Leopard.  That's all you need to know. Or you can watch the video if you fell in love with Hope Solo during the women's World Cup run.  [ SBNation ]
  • With Shaq's retirement earlier this year, Hardwood Paroxysm dubs Steve Nash the Funniest Player in the NBA [ HP-Funniest ].
  • Steve Practices with the Whitecaps - Steve does a lot of things off the court, and if he hadn't played professional basketball he'd probably have played professional soccer, but since he can't play professional soccer because he plays professional basketball he owns a professional soccer team so at least he can pretend like he plays professional soccer. "It was a lot of fun, for me it's a great opportunity not just to get a kick-around with the guys, but to get to know them a little bit. As a fan it's fun to meet them and know them. As an owner it's fun to get the temperature of the club and how the guys' spirits are." [ cbcsports.ca ]
  • Steve Goes to an ASU Game - Steve was spotted at the ASU v. Mizzou game a few weeks ago. [azsports
  • Nash Went to a Nas Concert - Most people go to a club or a bar mitzvah to get their groove on and dance.  Nash gets on stage with Nas.  I'm pretty sure he was on stage with Lady Gaga earlier in the year too.. but I'm not sure if he was dancing then... or getting danced on. [Lean like a Cholo Nash
  • He Traveled - Like the vast majority of rich folk Steve took to the world for some vacation time this summer, traveling to Paris, Italy, China, the moon and the center of the earth.  Meanwhile Eutychus went to Jerome AZ for his 3 day vacation. Like a BAWSE.  By the way, if you ever go to Jerome, you really only need maybe 1.5 days to see and do everything there is to do there.

THE GOOD TWEETS

Here's a few of my hand-picked favorites. 

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Alright, well that's about all the Nash news I can handle because I'm starting to feel like a creepy stalker.  If after reading this you are still craving more news about what Nash has been up to, please seek psychiatric help immediately. 

Stay Tuned for the next episode of What the Suns!? - coming soon.  Or whenever I feel like writing it.  #Lockout

P.S. - this picture has to do with the poll question. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

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Poll
Did you know that Steve Nash dated Liz Hurley back in the day?

  116 votes | Results


Mercury Storm Back To Beat Seattle And Advance To WCF

Phoenix was a serious underdog headed into this game and were down big early. They fought back with defense (gasp!) and the game came down to the wire.

WCF against either San Antonio or Minnesota starts Thursday.

If you missed this game on ESPN on Monday, and you have access to ESPN 3, do yourself a favor and watch at least the fourth quarter.


Did seeing Jason Kidd get a ring change Grant Hill's priorities?

Phoenix Suns free agent small forward Grant Hill figures to have a few teams vying for his services once the NBA lockout ends and free agent signing period commences. The team that continues to be mentioned as a frontrunner should Hill choose to leave Phoenix is the Miami Heat. Most recently, HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy said this in a chat:

I’ve been told a few times this summer that Grant Hill wants to join a contender, and that there’s mutual interest in Miami. If he’s able to win a title, that would certainly help his case for the Hall of Fame, but I think he makes it regardless.

Hill made a telling statement in July after seeing Jason Kidd, the man with whom he shared rookie of the year honors in 1995, win a ring with the Dallas Mavericks: "You definitely want to win, especially when you see somebody you are kind of linked to and somebody you have known for many years get there. I don’t have too many more years left, so we have to wait and see. But it would be nice to do what [Kidd] was able to do this past season."

Before that statement from Hill in July, it was widely assumed among the Suns fanbase that he would finish his playing career in Phoenix. Suns owner Robert Sarver has announced his desire to re-sign Hill, and Hill's family resides in the Phoenix area. In addition, Hill's injury-riddled career has been rejuvenated in Phoenix, as the Suns training staff has worked its wonders, and he has been healthy enough to play in 313 out of a possible 328 regular season games in his four seasons in Phoenix.

More.....

It's easy to see why the Heat would be interested. Hill has been a bargain in his time with the Suns, providing leadership, strong defense and efficient if unspectacular offense, at the salary of only $10M total over four seasons. Last year, Hill averaged 13.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 30.1 minutes per game, and often was asked to guard the opposing team's biggest offensive threat, players ranging from Derrick Rose to Blake Griffin.

From the Suns viewpoint, Hill is a fan favorite, team leader, provides more value than his simple stats show and, I must restate, his salary has been beyond reasonable. His low salary demands also appeal to a Heat team that has precious little cap space.

I love Grant Hill, you love Grant Hill, everybody loves Grant Hill.

And yet still, the more I think about this, the more I think it might make sense for all involved if Hill went to the Heat. Why would a 39-year old player want to play out his career on a Suns team that's going nowhere? And, given the Suns' current situation, what do they want with an old role player at the end of his career? This is especially true when you consider that the Suns have Josh Childress and his similar skillset languishing on the bench with his large salary, ready to step in.

Before anyone throws out crazy trade scenarios of what we might get from the Heat in exchange for Hill, let me say again that Hill is a free agent. The choice will be his, and if he wants to leave, the Suns will get nothing in return but a small amount of salary cap space.

I'd also like to pre-emptively kibosh comparisons to the Steve Nash situation. While Nash and Hill are co-captains, and many Suns fans see them in the same glowing terms, Nash is possibly the greatest player in Suns history (definitely in the conversation, at least). He's a Suns legend. For all his qualities, Hill is not that. He's had a Hall of Fame career, but he's merely been a solid role player with the Suns. Watching Hill walk away would not be the same as watching Nash walk away, at least not in my eyes.

Should Grant Hill decide he'd like to stay in Phoenix and try to return the Suns to relevance, I'd be happy with that. Hill remains a solid contributor, and is one of the class acts ever to play in the NBA. However, if he decides to go to a contender such as the Heat, I'd understand and wouldn't be all that upset. He doesn't owe the Suns any more than what he has given the team, and I would tip my hat, thank him for his time as a Sun, and wish him well on his way out.

What would your reaction be if Grant Hill left the Suns to sign with the Heat?


David? Hello? You haven't told me where the next meeting is yet...  (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix Suns fans are fairly unanimous in their distaste for Robert Sarver, managing partner of the team's ownership group. They feel, rightfully so, that Sarver's mismanagement and disloyalty has led to the disintegration of a proud franchise and championship-contending roster.

National media take potshots at Sarver whenever possible. Local media and fans too. Heck, even current players during a lockout!

Sarver appears to be a difficult boss. Some of the nicest guys in all of sports - heck, in all the world - have voluntarily walked away from their jobs in the past 18 months without even having a new job in place. Steve Kerr. David Griffin. Rick Welts. Going years back, you can add in Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Colangelo (senior advisor at the time) and Bryan Colangelo. Really wonderful people. All gone of their own accord.

And this while Sarver was a key voice in the decision to lock out players this summer while the NBA tries to totally change the NBA salary structure. For some reason, he was not a fan of losing money while some of his fellow owners made boatloads.

And now rumors have surfaced that Robert Sarver has continued stomping his foot and pounding the floor. If not for Sarver's meddling last week, commissioner David Stern would be publicly hugging union president Derek Fisher right now, the NBA would be back in business and players would be preparing for training camp.

Is it possible that players, front office staff and NBA executives could name a WORSE owner in the NBA, if a poll were taken right now? I doubt it.

Does Robert Sarver care that people don't like him? I doubt that either.

Before I go any further, let me set my own record straight. Regular readers probably believe that I'm a fan of Sarver. Of all the writers on this blog, I'm the one most likely to defend his latest decision. I agreed with the decision to offer Amare only partial guarantees in his contract. I agreed with the decision that the 2008 Suns were "stale" and that Marion was the most logical piece to move amongst Nash, Stoudemire, Bell, Barbosa, Diaw and him. And I agree that the current NBA system heavily favors the largest markets, leaving teams like the Suns praying for leftover scraps.

But I am not an apologist for Robert Sarver, the person. Neither am I a hater. I simply have no opinion of him as a person because I've never met him. 

All we have to go on are the opinions of media, which by definition is third-hand knowledge. And that assumes the writer of the story had first-hand knowledge themselves, which is almost never the case. They have sources, who have sources. Which means that anything we read online is likely 5th or 6th-hand knowledge.

Ever play that game where you have people pass along a story by whispering it in the next person's ear? By the third or forth ear, the story has changed. Now if you factor in the personal motivations of each of those folks...

Case in point: all week, heck all summer, we've been under the impression that Robert Sarver would be a big fan of a hard salary cap. And even last week, he was supposedly the one who derailed an attempt by Stern and the players to keep the soft cap in place. Sarver wants a hard cap. Rich owners like Jerry Buss want a soft cap so they can monopolize talent. And Stern just wants the money to start rolling in again.

Makes total sense, right?

Well, read this article from NBA insider Chris Broussard over the weekend. He basically threw that whole notion out with the bath water.

This illustrates the complexity of the situation, and why the "large-markets-are-doves/small-markets-are-hawks’’ equation doesn’t work. For instance, while it’s long been reported that Phoenix’s Robert Sarver is a hawk, two sources close to the situation insist he’s one of the biggest doves in the ownership ranks.

WTF, right?

According to multiple "sources", the owners are close to agreeing on a massive increase to revenue sharing, yet still want a hard cap before they implement it.

Is it possible that Sarver has insisted/negotiated on the revenue-sharing part, but it's the big-market owners (who would do most of the "giving" side of the sharing) who want a hard cap in order to further increase profits before giving it away to guys like Sarver and Michael Jordan?

The reason for this seeming contradiction is related to the enhanced revenue-sharing system the league will implement. The big-market owners will bear the brunt of the new system and, according to sources, some of them are adamant about having a hard cap so that if they must share revenues, they’ll have more money from which to pull. 

"The big markets want to revenue share but not with their current profits,’’ one of the sources said. "Instead, they want to share from the profit they would get from a harder cap.’’ 

After all this time, is it possible that our assumptions regarding Sarver's motives were totally wrong? Uh, probably not. He wants to make money, just like Buss and Cuban.

But our assumptions of how exactly he's going about it are probably complete conjecture.

Heck, even local media are forgetting reality in their articles to condemn Sarver:

...the only thing small market about Phoenix is Sarver, who paid a fortune for the team and won't suffer significant short-term losses to win a championship.

That is total BS. Phoenix is, at best, the 12th largest revenue market in the league. And when did it suddenly become cool to bash Sarver for spending too much money to buy the team? That's like bashing me and millions of other people for spending too much on my mortgage before the housing bubble burst. It's okay to bash Sarver - just use real facts when doing so.

If I take the person out of the equation, I am left with this understanding:

  1. The Phoenix Suns are in a mid-to-small NBA market (depending on your rule set, Suns are around 12th-16th in market size).
  2. Under the current salary structure, in place since the late 80s, the Suns have won 0 championships.*
  3. With the exception of one team who drafted Robinson and Duncan in the 90s, only the big markets have won multiple championships in that time span.
  4. Again with the prior exception, it is widely understood that you can't win a championship without wild spending.
  5. Only big markets continue to earn a profit while spending wildly.
  6. Only one team wins a championship each year.
(*yes, they MIGHT have won a championship in the mid-2000s but we will never know. Any number of other things could have just as wrong as the things that actually did go wrong)

Contrast this with the NFL model and you've got a big reason why the owners SHOULD want to change the structure. We can condemn Sarver all we want for not going broke to win, but really in an objective world SHOULD he have to lose money when a handful of his brethren are rolling in the dough? 

Check out this wonderful article by Andrew Brandt, a former NFL front-office person who now is a widely respected writer.

As with the NFL collective bargaining negotiations, the overriding issue is the split of revenue, from which all other issues flow. Despite the rhetoric, the two sides are moving closer on the most important item on the checklist. Three weeks from a real deadline, that is significant and should not be minimized.

As with any negotiation of this magnitude, much like the NFL, the devil is in the details. The NBA is insistent on a hard cap, or at least a significantly harder cap, as a way to achieve profitability off the court and competitive balance on it. Thus, in the NBA's view, the hard cap primarily affects both distribution of talent and distribution of money.

 

Brandt compares the NBA model with the NFL and NHL models, and firmly believes that the latter models are stronger for the league AND not as worrisome for players as you might think.

The NBPA's position is that were a hard cap instituted, non-marquee players would have to accept lower salaries and nonguaranteed contracts. This may be true, but it would depend on a few factors. Were the salary floor raised along with the cap ceiling, lower-budget teams, which will always struggle to attract superstar talent, would be forced to pay much more than they do now. This would flow through to the entire league, not just the upper echelon of players.

Right. A hard cap coupled with a hard floor would keep NBA players in business. Shorter deals with buyout clauses would help owners get out of cap-killers (the NHL now has 1/3 or 2/3 buyout clauses, depending on years in league, in every contract).

Look, no one likes Robert Sarver. And he very well might be the worst owner in sports. And after getting what he wants - more cash, hard salary ceilings - he will probably still screw up the Suns' future.

But you have to recognize this: Robert Sarver is not afraid of putting a target on his back to fight for what he wants. He reportedly is fighting tooth and nail to give himself a level playing field with the other NBA franchises. By doing so, he is taking away the built-in excuse for losing.

At that point, all the blame would rightfully belong on his shoulders, where it currently resides anyway.


Perhaps it’s not saying much in a league in which Al Harrington can go for 46 and 12, but Jared Dudley put up some nice all-around numbers during the first week of the Impact Competitive...

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