In honor of Steve Nash Internet Day, I thought I'd relate this little story.
I first saw Steve Nash play basketball when he was a 19 year old freshman at Santa Clara University, during the WCC tournament in March of 1993. The tournament was held in San Francisco that year, and my dad and I flew up to watch our beloved Pepperdine Waves compete. This was before Gonzaga had become a perennial power, and at the time Pepperdine was the dominant team in the conference. It was also long before the WCC tournament moved to Las Vegas and the games that year were played on the USF campus, in the cracker box known as War Memorial Gym. The only thing we were worried about was the home court advantage for USF.
In the semi-finals, Pepperdine played Santa Clara. Nash didn't start for the Broncos his freshman year and I had no idea who he was. The Waves were in control of the game early when some skinny Canadian kid with a bad haircut checked in. He completely took over. Pepperdine had gone undefeated in the WCC during the regular season, but this game was no contest. Nash did whatever he wanted - got layups for his teammates, made every shot he took. At first I thought it must have been a complete fluke. How could this guy possibly be that good? If he was, why wasn't he starting? Why wasn't he a big time NBA prospect? Little did I know. The Broncos of course went on to win the tournament and less than a week later became one of the only 15 seeds in history to beat a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament when Nash led them to an upset of Arizona.
I wish I could say that I knew the minute I saw him play as a 19 year old that he was one day going to be an NBA MVP. I can't say that - nobody could have suspected that. But I knew he was special.
Almost 17 years later, Steve Nash is still breaking my heart. In his first game of the season, just when I was beginning to think that perhaps time had caught up to him, he followed up a 3 for 9 performance in the first three quarters with a 15 point fourth in which he didn't miss a shot and scored the game winner against the Clippers.
Happy Steve Nash Internet Day anyway.