Canada flamed out at the FIBA World Cup and fans, analysts and media alike pointed to a cohort of NBA players pulling out of the tournament as the reason for the country’s quick elimination.
Count a two-time NBA MVP among the national team’s critics.
Steve Nash joined The Ringer’s Bill Simmons on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” to discuss Canada’s elimination, speak about his own international experience and critique this generation’s “workout culture” among other topics.
“Canada, I don't know how many but you want to say 10 or more NBA players not going to the World Cup?” Nash asked Simmons.
“It's a generational thing,” he added.
Nash went on to detail his experience playing for Canada at the 2000 Olympics as a catalyst for his career development. During the tournament, Nash steered Canada to the quarterfinals, where they were eliminated by France.
“Yeah, it was the best experience of my career and I think that next year, I think I was a borderline all-star with Dallas,” Nash said. “It's a great playing experience.
“First of all, culturally, these guys have so many options, it doesn't seem to mean as much anymore in this generation because you have so many options to represent your country. The World Cup is not the Olympics.”
The former Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns point guard was able to get his point across that the culture surrounding off-season training has changed immeasurably since his own playing days.
“For me, I'd love to see these guys play,” Nash said. “And then also, this whole workout culture. You know, I don't know if it's we've taught guys the way is to have a great routine and work really hard. But that's now manifested itself into this really rigid, 'I got my workout guy, I go to the gym, I do my drills and that's good.' But that's one component. You should be playing one-on-one, three-on-three and five-on-five.”
Nash said that he loves the current generation of basketball stars but noted that “workout culture” lacks creativity and imagination, while also stating that the international experience is far more challenging than a standard summer pick-up game with NBA players.
“By the way, how about getting a chance to play in a game that matters. In the summertime. S—, if my country loses - if we don't lock down and get a stop here, my country loses,” Nash said.
Nash has been the emblem of Canadian basketball for well over a decade and with a new generation of players capable of taking the mantle, the eight-time all-star appears to be waiting for someone to step up.
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