11 July 2012

The Narrative of Steve Nash.

     I've been thinking a lot about this Steve Nash business.  Specifically, his public image and whether or not it will suffer any changes now that he's officially a Los Angeles Laker.
     I feel it must be said that I'm merely a novice fan when it comes to Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.  Or basketball at all.  I grew up outside Philadelphia, during which time interest in basketball tanked after the Iverson-era, baseball wasn't interesting to fair-weather fans until they won the World Series, and misplaced faith in Donovan McNabb helped feed the sports-craziness and rudeness.
     Then I came to Phoenix, where it seemed like everyone and their dog owned Suns paraphernalia.  And all of them loved Steve Nash.  People would wear their Nash jerseys with the same attitude of "one of those parents" with the my kid's an honors student bumper sticker.  It's like they were proclaiming to the world

Because Steve Nash is a great player and I wear his name and number on my back, I should be respected for that.

     To be honest, this love for Steve Nash confused me at first.  I mean, he's not even decorated.  How great can he be if he's not even won a championship?
     Before you send an angry mob after me, give me a chance to make up for that thought.
     When I think of Steve Nash today, three things come to mind.

     The first is his Vitaminwater commercial.  Every time I see it, I just about die.  ("I'm Canadian celebrity Steve Nash.  Yeah, that's right!")
     The second is another commercial (I think for APS?) in which a man brings Steve into his family's portraits for helping them save on their energy bills.
     The third is game four of the Suns-Spurs 2010 playoff series.  I saw Tim Duncan's elbow plow into Steve's face.  I saw that right eye become swollen over.  And I saw every one of the twenty points he scored after that.
     It is these three things that help me understand.  This man is something else.  He's funny.  You want him in your family photos, even if you need to make up an excuse to justify it.  He's the kind of guy who finishes a game with one eye because in the back of his mind he knows how important this game is to his team and to an entire fan base who are sick of eating it every time a clutch series against the Spurs comes.  You can't help but love this guy.  We love to love Steve Nash.
     And who doesn't love to hate the Lakers?  In the last week, I've seen little girls cry and I've seen people in a torment because they vowed to follow Steve Nash anywhere while simultaneously vowing to hate the Lakers with the same intensity that they love Nash.
     What's interesting to me is this: The deal is finalized and he's officially a Laker.  But nobody's saying they hate Steve Nash.
     Not so interesting to you?  Consider this:
     July.  2010.  Lebron James.  "The Decision." (ugh.)  "I'm taking my talents to South Beach." (UGH.)
     Cavs fans burned their Lebron jerseys.  The boos upon his return to Cleveland later that year were legendary.  Since that time he's had a presence on almost all "most hated athletes" list.  And when he finally got his championship last month, there was a general murmuring of "Ok, I'll give him this one moment" if there was anything besides more hatred.
     I don't expect the same thing for Steve.  No one is going to hate him.  No one wants to.  No one is going to want to boo him when he returns to Phoenix next season.  Phoenix is going to want to cheer for him.  I want to be at that game.  Because I don't doubt that we will cheer.
     I'm not so sure that the difference here is the I want to be close to my kids factor.  It's the narrative that we've built around Steve Nash.  And Lebron.  Lebron is the villain.  He made himself totally hate-able.
     But not Nash.  He's done nothing so outlandish.  He's never ticked anyone off.  Even though he's yet to finish his quest he's a hero, one we'd like to think of as an everyman.  We need to see him win a championship, even if it's with the Lakers and it kills us.
     And if it happens, we won't just give him a small moment to celebrate.  We'll give him our lives and a lifetime of celebrations and integrate ourselves into Steve Nash's narrative.  Maybe we'll even pull out the old Suns #13 jersey, newly representative of a blinged out version of the honors student bumper sticker.  At which time with the wearing of that jersey we announce

I stuck with him, and I won that championship, too.  I should be respected for that.

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