Sunday , Sep , 20 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Why Steve Nash is “a real long shot” to play for Canada at FIBA World Championship

That’s all Steve Nash would have had to do for Canada Basketball to roll out the red carpet and hold a roster spot for him on the team heading to the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Instead of calling in a favour with the organization he represented for a decade, the former NBA All-Star told reporters at his ‘Showdown in Downtown’ charity soccer game in Vancouver that he wouldn’t play at next summer’s tournament and reiterated that his international career is likely finished …


Why Steve Nash isIt would have taken one phone call.

That’s all Steve Nash would have had to do for Canada Basketball to roll out the red carpet and hold a roster spot for him on the team heading to the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey.

Instead of calling in a favor with the organization he represented for a decade, the former NBA All-Star told reporters at his ‘Showdown in Downtown’ charity soccer game in Vancouver that he wouldn’t play at next summer’s tournament and reiterated that his international career is likely finished.

“I think that (playing in Turkey) is a real long shot,” said Nash.

“I have so many commitments already and my commitment to the Suns. Something would have to give and I don’t know if I could make it through physically and mentally. Like I said, five or six years ago, my time with the national team is probably over.”   

Nobody should be shocked Nash won’t suit up for Canada, but not for the reason he mentioned. At Saturday’s event it was obvious he’s in terrific shape, fully capable of dominating both the soccer pitch and basketball court.

Nash could be passing on the World Championship for a different reason: he didn’t play in the qualifying FIBA Tournament of the Americas and doesn’t want to disrupt chemistry.

It’s becoming all too common with national programs. NBA superstars let lower level pros take care of business during the qualifying tournaments and, once the team has secured a spot in the Olympics or World Championship, they suddenly become available to represent their country.

These arrangements divide teams. After all, players toiling in various European leagues get the grunt work of long training camps and gruelling exhibition games, while the NBA hotshot gets the spotlight and accolades of high profile events.

This can create problems. For instance, Philadelphia 76ers centre Sam Dalembert was kicked off the Canadian team at the Beijing Olympics for not gelling with teammates. Dalembert became a Canadian citizen months before the 2008 Olympics.

USA Basketball stumbled before the recent ‘Redeem Team’ because its best players believed tournaments and training camps were optional. The Americans only reclaimed their perch atop the world’s basketball throne in Beijing after their elite talent made a three-year commitment to the program in 2005.

Nash understands joining the Canadian team after it had done the heavy lifting at the Tournament of the Americas might not jive with some teammates. Worst of all, he’d have to take a roster spot from someone else

Watching Nash give to others at his ‘Showdown in Downtown’, it’s no surprise he’s opting-out of the 2010 World Championship. Instead of criticizing, we should appreciate his decision.

Got thoughts on Nash not playing at the 2010 World Championship? Should national programs give NBA stars a pass for qualifying rounds? Sound off in the comment box below.  Follow Oly on HoopsVibe and Twitter. Photo courtesy of Mike Wu.