A busy investiture and induction season continued unabated on Friday for two-time MVP Steve Nash, who retired from the National Basketball Association in March 2015 after 19 seasons.
But even by his standards, this was a big one, when the former hoops great from Victoria was invested into the Order of Canada along with 47 others during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Nash was cited not only for his trailblazing hoops prowess, but also for his work with under-served children in Canada, the United States and Paraguay.
“His outstanding play on the basketball court is matched only by his passion for helping others,” the office of Gov. Gen. David Johnston said in a statement.Nash will be inducted into the Basketball B.C. Hall of Fame tonight in Richmond and into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame on June 9 in Vancouver. Nash will returning to his home province for the latter enshrinement into the B.C. Sports Hall.
His former coach at St. Michaels University School, Ian Hyde-Lay, will speak on Nash’s behalf today at the Basketball B.C. induction.
“They are all great honours. The Order of Canada, especially, is a magnificent one,” Hyde-Lay said. “Steve’s legacy is that he built and spearheaded the popularity of the game of basketball in Canada. He was one of the best players of his generation and one of the most influential. He changed the way the game is played around the world. You see more passing and team play now because of him.”
The eight-time NBA all-star is No. 3 on the all-time pro basketball assists list with 10,335, and five times led the NBA in assists. Nash turned passing the ball into high art. Not only that, he made passing downright cool and a hipster thing to do.
The Islander is also the greatest free-throw percentage shooter in NBA history.
When Stephen Curry was named 2015-16 NBA MVP this week, he became only the third point guard to win the award back-to-back, joining Nash and Magic Johnson.
Arbutus Junior High product Nash — who was an all-rounder in soccer, lacrosse, baseball, rugby and hockey while growing up in Gordon Head — captained the Canadian national basketball team for nearly a decade, including to a 5-2 record at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics.
“Steve not only changed the way the game is played, but he set an example for what is possible for Canadian kids to accomplish in basketball,” Hyde-Lay said.
Victoria basketball coaching legend Ken Shields, an Order of Canada recipient in 2008, concurred.
“The honour is most deserved because Steve reached the highest level of performance in his profession,” said Shields, one of Nash’s early mentors.
“Not only did Steve make the NBA, but he twice became MVP. He imprinted the sport by bringing in a new style of play . . . a more team-oriented style. He became MVP by making other players better.”
Nash is now general manager of the Canadian team and is preparing it for the last chance Olympic qualifier for the Rio Games which takes place July 5-10 in Manila, Philippines.