Q&A with Steve Nash - Post-practice scrum
General Manager Steve Nash spoke with media about what it's like for an alumni of the program to watch basketball grow in Canada.
Q: What was it like to see the names of so many Canadians on Summer League rosters?
A: It’s obviously an exciting time for Canadian basketball. There are so many guys coming out year after year and more to come. It’s a lot of fun. Obviously as an alumni of the program and a Canadian, to watch our young kids do so well, is phenomenal.
Q: Is there a challenge, getting some of those guys here right after Summer League? Are you anticipating some of them coming through [later]?
A: First of all, everyone’s interested in being here but for various reasons, it’s not that simple. You have the interest of the club, the players level of health and fatigue, there’s a lot of factors. First and foremost, we want our young guys to be in good standing with their teams. So, I think some more guys could be here but right now they are trying to fulfill their obligations.
Q: Is Andrew Wiggins a guy who has expressed interest in the team?
A: Yeah, absolutely. But not only has he got a lot of attention on him, he had a phenomenally difficult last year, his team is also concerned about him. Andrew has shown interest, the Cavs have shown interest and there’s a chance he could be here, but he has to fulfill his obligations to his team first. Once he has a good footing there, we can work on getting him here.
Q: How important is it for these young guys to get some international experience, for next year when it counts?
A: That’s the the primary reason they are here – to get these guys experience for next summer. It’s a very young team, a team that has got very little international experience. The rules and refereeing in competition is completely different and they haven’t played together. That’s huge, so while we have a tremendous talent pool, it’s a very difficult task. Seemingly, there’s one or two spots in the Americas to win and that can be an incredibly difficult task. Our guys need experience this summer to do it next summer.
Q: Is there a benefit to Andrew, Anthony and Tristan all playing together in one town?
A: I think it can be a huge benefit. We can communicate with that team, we can follow their progress much more easily and those guys can form a bond during the year. But for me, what’s important is those guys have a friendship and an understanding of one another that will lead them to motivate each other to come and play for their country.
Q: Going over to Europe this summer, does winning the games actually matter or just the experience?
A: It’s all about the experience. I mean, we are going to try and win every game but we are also going to play guys a lot of equal minutes, give everyone a lot of experience, try to learn and understand what Jay is asking at both ends of the floor. It’s about as good of a tour as you could possibly imagine, playing against great teams. It’s an awesome tour for these guys to gain a lot of experience and to see what the benchmark is for top-level international basketball
Q: What does it mean for Cory Joseph to be there, after winning a title?
A: He’s definitely one of the leaders. This is his fourth summer in a row and it’s a great commitment. He’s a player who is hungry and will continue to grow and make a long career of it. I can’t say enough about his commitment, his drive and his pride in playing for Canada.
Q: Does Cory have to take a bit of leadership role with some of these guys? He’s not old but he’s got a lot of experience.
A: We have a very young team, so guys that have been in the NBA for 2-3 years are veterans. We are going to have to be a team that really comes together, has a great bond, leads together, leads in numbers and pushes each other to get better. But at the same time, they support one another. We have to build a winning culture here. It’s exciting, because we have so much talent but it’s not easy. These guys are coming from very young perspectives, trying to figure out where they are going with their career and their game, what club they are going to, what level they are going to play at, whether that’s the NBA or Europe – and, some of these guys are still in college. That makes the task difficult but this is just the start of a project that hopefully lasts decades.
Q: You are in the mentor role here, what’s that like for you?
A: It’s natural. I’ve been a mentor for probably ten years now. I’m 40, I’ve been a veteran in the NBA for a long time so I’ve got a lot of young players playing on my teams under me, but I always try to be there to share, help and give back.