You already know Steve Nash as one of the greatest point guards of all time. But were you aware his fervour for soccer is nearly as legendary as his boundary-breaking basketball career?
Steve Nash is focused on the bright, colourful screen of his iPhone. Except the finest basketball player to ever hail from these parts isn’t checking out highlights of the Raptors’ historic NBA championship victory, which took place mere weeks before this exchange. (He’s done enough celebrating, he says.)
It’s DAZN that has captured his undivided attention. The nascent online subscription service, dedicated to live and on-demand sports, is what brings us to Nash. Specifically, the fact that the brand has secured exclusive rights in Canada to Premier League, cementing its position as the new home of European football across the country.
Despite being remembered as an eight-time NBA All-Star, seven-time All-NBA selection, and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, it’s clear that Nash is a fitting ambassador for the platform, Premier League, and, of course, soccer.
Premier League isn’t just the top level of the English football league system, it’s perhaps the most popular football league in the world. What can Canadians expect this season?
It is an electric competition. Not only the race to the crown the champion, but the relegation battle. The ability to watch every single game for Canadians through DAZN and to be able to stream whatever your team is, or whatever battles are going on in the middle of the season, is phenomenal. It’s going to be a fun year.
You’re a staunch Tottenham Hotspur supporter, part owner of both the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Real Mallorca, as well as a television analyst for the Champions League. Where did your passion for the game first develop?
“Goal” was my first word. I grew up in a British household on the west coast of Canada. My dad was a semi-pro soccer player and fanatical about all sports. In particular, soccer. So, I loved it. I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch Tottenham. Those are some of my oldest memories. Even though I started playing basketball when I was 13, the game never really left me from a fanship point of view. I still love to play. It’s a big part of my life and getting an opportunity to cover the game has been incredible.
What key parallels do you see between basketball and soccer?
I think they’re the two biggest sports. The players are really raw. There’s no helmet, no mask, no hat. You get a close-up feel of the emotions and the output of each player. They’re one part Broadway, and one part reality TV, which is an advantage as far as fans getting engaged in the personalities and the drama. Psychologically, they’re similar, too. They’re team sports where chemistry and an ability to find cohesion is so important. In fact, it’s debilitating if you can’t find it. You have no chance of winning. It’s also the most beautiful thing when those teams do.
How big of an influence has soccer had on your basketball career?
Basketball was something I came into late. I probably wouldn’t have made it in the NBA if it wasn’t for soccer. The anticipation, the awareness, the angles, the vision — all those things that were really important to me as a basketball player, they came from soccer. Moreover, as we’re seeing soccer players and fans get more involved in basketball, and basketball players and fans getting more open and more aware of soccer, it’s an exciting time for the crossover of both sports.