If One Thing Gets Under Steve Nash's Skin, It's Stu Jackson

September, 21, 2009
9/21/09
5:36
PM ET

Who is Steve Nash's nemesis?

Does he have one? Is there someone who really gets to that guy? Makes him livid?

Isn't he too Canadian for that? Isn't that part of the Nash charm? When he's not smiling don't we assume he's at least being reasonable?

(Is seven questions too many to start an a blog post? Was that eight?)

I doubt Nash has a Nixon-style enemies list. But if he does, I'm thinking Stu Jackson must be somewhere on there.

In an interview with the CBC's Peter Mansbridge, transcribed on the Canadian NBeh.ca blog (get it?), Steve Nash talks about when the Grizzlies left Vancouver: 

I think the Vancouver situation is unfair and I think Vancouver deserves a team. It's one of the premier cities in the world and in North America. I think the team was unfairly taken and I think the commissioner would probably agree with that -- at the time it was probably difficult for him to feel that way, but they had one general manager in the history of the franchise and they never succeeded.

I think the city deserved another chance -- another general manager, some fresh blood, an opportunity to succeed, and see how the fans and corporate sponsors responded. I thought that the fans were great considering they were a losing franchise, perennially so. It's a shame and I think all of the players feel that way. 

This isn't talk you'll often see players talk about in print, but it's something people do grumble about, quietly.

That one GM, the person Nash is blaming for the failure of basketball in one of the world's greatest cities is Jackson, who left the Grizzlies to join the NBA. Jackson's exact title there is something boring (executive vice president of basketball operations), but in practice he's the High Priest of Handing Out Suspensions and Fines.

It was Jackson, in fact, who announced the suspensions of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw that many felt cost the Suns a trip to the Finals in 2007. At that time, Nash said he was too disgusted to even talk about it.

And, for good measure, it's probably also worth pointing out that the Grizzlies -- eager to establish a foothold in the Canadian market -- had the third overall pick in the 1996 NBA draft. That draft featured a future two-time M.V.P., a young man who grew up in British Columbia, and has since become clearly the best Canadian basketball player ever. In hindsight, selecting Nash would have been ten times smarter than anything else Jackson could have done with that pick.

But, in keeping with conventional wisdom at the time, Jackson took Shareef Abdur-Rahim third for the Grizzlies, while Nash was selected 15th.

I don't think many people blame Jackson for not knowing Steve Nash would become, you know, Steve Nash. But Steve Nash always knew who he was, and he might be a tad sore about it. 

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