8

Thanks, But Steve Nash Doesn’t Need Your Acquittal

The following is a response to The Cosellout article on Steve Nash and how it’s not his fault the media has a favorable bias towards him. The arguments made in the post are sound, and he brings up a valuable point. I just happen to disagree with him. If the tone in this comes off as acerbic, it should be attributed to my own particular voice when writing, and no undue offense is intended for the original author. It takes guts to post an article that essentially demeans the efforts of a two time MVP. And right or wrong, he should be commended for that. However, I felt it necessary to respond, based on my own feelings on the subject. Also, Kobe sucks.

I get it. You’re counter-counter-culture.

You think the media is unfairly nice to Steve Nash.

Let’s go through your arguments one by one.

1.) MVP Consideration: So, in essence, your argument, if I’m to understand, is that you don’t agree that Nash was the MVP (but that’s okay, because you ROOT FOR STEVE NASH!), and that the majority of voters did think he was the MVP, and voted as such, and that makes it racial bias. So wait, in a completely subjective discussion, a large number of people that follow basketball decided that Steve Nash was the superior player, and because not enough of them just went ahead and voted for someone that wasn’t white, that makes it a racial bias? Really? So if Steve Nash had won by a hair, then the media is not racist? What about if he won by a little less of a landslide? You don’t think for a second that maybe everyone just voted for Nash, because, I don’t know, his team won more games than Kobe’s and LeBron’s and , and he was largely the attributed factor?

Nah. It’s because he’s white! It’s not that Lebron faced questions that season about his focus, leadership, and jumper, or that, you know, Kobe is considered (right or wrong) a ball-hogging pure shooter and we all know it. NO! It’s because he’s white!

What, are you kidding me?

Nash won because sports writers will look at stats, and make the case for lots of players on lesser teams. But you know what counts most to them? Wins. Otherwise there would be a statistical formula for the MVP, or we’d just give it to the scoring champion. Nash was voted MVP because he put in ridiculous numbers, led his team to wins in both seasons (including one without Amare), and did so as the pivotal player on a highly explosive offense that could not run without a player of his singular caliber.

Look, I get the fact that you think LeBron should have won, even though that season he had significant questions about his leadership, clutch shooting, and oh, yeah, jumpshot. And I understand you think a better case could be made for Bryant because HE SCORES LOTS OF POINTS! HE SCORED 81 IN A GAME! A SINGLE GAME! WHAT?! YES, I KNOW HE ONLY GOT THE SEVEN SEED, AND HE WAS QUESTIONED OFTEN FOR BEING TOO SELFISH ABOUT HIS OWN SHOOTING. BUT…HE SCORED 81 IN A GAME!!!!!!

Doesn’t cut it. Nash has the numbers. He has the personality (which like it or not, is going to be a factor in a subjective race, and that same factor is going to help LeBron over the next ten years). He has the leadership, and the wins, and the intangibles. That’s why he won.

Just because you can ask the question, “Was it because of RACE?!” does not mean the answer is automatically yes. Our defficiencies as a culture do not equate a lack of qualification on Nash’s part.

II. Athleticism: Again, let me get this straight. You think, in your heart of hearts, deep down in the cockles of your soul, that every white guy in America sitting on his couch watching league pass sees Steve Nash take the ball, break the half court trap, set the offense, fake left, drive right, stop, safely exit pass, negotiate the pick, retrieve the ball, fake right, go left, stop, no look pass to a streaking player for an easy lay-in, and we all go “Man! He’s just like me!”

You went ahead and had those few drinks you mentioned for the MVP conversation, didn’t you?

Another of the main problems I have with your argument, besides A. the “well you can ask the question so it must be true” argument and B. well, the argument in and of itself, is the way that both the main stream media and the average white fan are idiots. Essentially, we’re racially biased, socially ignorant people that believe in the perception that Steve is just like our friend at the pick-up game who’s really good.

I’m not entirely sure about your friends, man, but mine can’t ball like Nash. And I’m aware of this. I pay attention. I love the sport. And I know that Nash has unbelievable soccer skills and could rule at hockey or pretty much any other sport he were to play. And I know this because I pay attention. But you know what? Even if I didn’t know these things, I would still be able to speak volumes about Nash’s athleticism. Why? Because I can figure out that he gets paid millions of dollars to play basketball for a living. It’s not like some part of me is like, “ooh, it’s all want-to.” Come on! The man runs what is essentially a high speed shuttle drill weaving in between 7 foot monsters for 40 minutes a night. Yeah, you know, maybe that guy’s got some physical skills.

III. Ah, I see. The fact that our culture is obsessed with stars and pays more attention to them than “average” professional athletes is clearly an indication of racial bias in the media! Yeah, that’s it! It’s not because Etan Thomas (who’s game I sincerely love and who I genuinely hope is having a safe and healthy recovery) has had trouble getting floor time because of known all-worlder Brendan Haywood, or because he plays on a team as a role player to the eternally amusing Agent Zero. No! It’s because he’s black! That’s why he’s given such a hard time! Nash also never went out and was going to media outlets saying “I want to talk about how messed up the War in Iraq is.” (If you want to get into a discussion of whether he should or not, we can another time, and that one we’re more likely to agree on.). The media is historically bad when it comes to people it views as “loudmouths.” It wants the only loudly voiced opinions to come from them. These does not mean that they’re racist.

IV. Again, I understand. Of course! The fact that one instance of generosity is done by a 2 time NBA MVP in his prime versus an aging center that would like to know who wants to sex him, yeah, that has nothing to do with this conversation. One is white, and one is black! Therefore, it must be a race issue! If we can question, we can confirm! Yay!

Is Etan Thomas an admirable guy who’s clearly intelligent and has important things to say about issues and is using his fame as an athlete to do so? Absolutely. Is Dikembe Mutumbo a generous human being? Of course.

Neither of these statements have anything to do with the fact that people pay more attention to Steve Nash because he’s a star. Not because he’s white.

V. Ohhhhhh, I see. So in the vast sea of MSM voices that are constantly plugged into your ears, Jon Barry’s offhanded comment that is said specifically in order to build hype for the current playoff matchups and to provide hype, that is definitely the sole voice in the malaise.

Dude, take a second, listen to Steven A. Smith,and things will feel much more balanced (Note: first time that sentence has been written. Anywhere.). Jon Barry does a bit of instant history and he’s part of a vast white-wing conspiracy to supplant black NBA stars of the past with Nash and his army of Canadian clones. Dan Shanoff does instant history and he’s just another voice in the “underground” of sports blogging. Dude, here’s some salt.Get a grain of it, take it with you for future emergencies.

And finally, thank you. Thank you for bringing to light the most convincing argument for Steve Nash’s racially based media bias. The fact that some cop let you off with a warning. Thanks. That clears up so much for me. Here I thought it was a complicated issue based on a longstanding systematic oppression of people based on their skin color, spanning economic and sociological factors, influencing health care, employment rates, education policy, and communication systems. No, what it really boils down to is that $80 ticket you got out of because you convinced some backwardass cop (another concept that is purely shocking in this country) to let you out of it.

Let’s be clear. America is still racist. Lots of sports fans are racist. Lots of media personnel I’m sure are racist. Race influences almost every situation that our country enjoys, from employment to religion to economy to family. My argument is not that we don’t need to ask ourselves if we’re racially biased, or if our media is exhibiting that bias. We hide from our darkness enough as it is.

But Steve Nash is not some barrier we need to break through in order to achieve a higher sense of social enlightenment. He’s not an icon for white America (he’s a Canadian soccer player, for God’s sake!). He won the MVP two years in a row because of his talent, leadership, and production. He is noticed more by the media for his community service and political statements because you know, he’s the MVP. He’s well liked because, shock of all shock, he’s likable. Nash is spending money on camps for kids. Kobe’s spending money on rings for scorned wives. This plays a factor in a voter’s mind, likely moreso than race, because the interaction is not on a personal level.

Just because you can point to this situation and ask, “Is race a factor?” doesn’t mean the answer is yes.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for CBSSports.com's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on NBCSports.com, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.

  • Basketbawful

    Fantastic rebuttal.

  • Pteradactually

    You make some sound points but your tone undermines them. Agreed that the race question being raised doesn’t inherently mean the answer is “yes”…but it also doesn’t mean the answer is “no”.

  • Dave

    re III and your loud moth point: a lot, if not most, of content in newspapers is placed. Businesses and celebrities pay a lot of money to pr reps to pitch stories.

  • JZ

    I very much agree with ptera here, on both points really. First of all, if you want anyone to read your blog consistently, find a way to write in an appealing tone. We get you’re upset, channel that into something with less exclamation marks, less shouting, less ranting. After a while, the repetitive ranting starts to dull your entire message.

    Second of all and more importantly, as is the case with almost all issues regarding race in America, the answer is somewhere in the grey area. It’s never black and white. To claim that Steve Nash’s race had nothing to do with his landslide victory, whether he deserved that level of victory or not, is incredible naive considering that Nash plays in a sport where a Black man got suspended for nearly 20% of the regular season for slapping another player last year, where players have to wear business casual attire OFF the court, where 18 year olds like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant who are more than capable of playing in the NBA are denied from doing so.

  • Sean

    dude I am seriously laughing out loud at how dumb jz is. “where players have to wear business casual attire OFF the court” Your right man, why on Earth would black people want to wear a suit. Aren’t all black ppl about hip hip and gang shit? Dude, your a racist for implying that it’s racist to make basketball players wear suits. The NBA is a business, a business has to send a message, messages are sent via actions, what you wear is an action, hip hop and gang related attire is a negative image, suits are a positive image. If anything it’s prejudice against a culture not a race. Although, I do agree that things aren’t black and white, but I do think ppl over analyze race. Not every decision is race based, it’s not factored into every equation. And the more ppl talk about it like it is the longer it will be. Both articles are only keeping segregation alive and strong. Oh btw I’m black. Just in case that was important or not.

  • Sean

    Oh yeah I totally dig your semi-non-formal attack on the previous article. It’s entertaining to listen to someone just speak their mind rather than reading something that tries to hard not to offend.

  • Chiggy

    I have a couple of issues with your argument. (Note, this will be a work in progress kind of thing)
    In regards to issue number one, his MVP consideration, I had the following thoughts:

    While Nash’s team did finish with more victories than both Kobe’s and Lebron’s; his teammates are widely recognized as superior to their teammates. His team was EXPECTED to do better and that was not entirely attributed to Nash.

    Now in regards to your commentary about Lebron’s “focus, leadership and jumper” and Kobe’s “ball-hogging”. Both have been equally (if not more) successful statically and team wise than Nash. While I acknowledge that Kobe has Shaq to thank for helping him capture his three championships, Nash has also had great teammates, (Amare and Dirk to name a few) and has NEVER made the finals. I understand he had 2 more wins in a far superior conference than Lebron however I don’t think that enough of a distinction to win a vote in a landslide.

    I agree with the majority of your points about his personality (which is excellent), his leader (also excellent) as well as the intangibles. However your argument that just because you can ask it doesn’t mean its true is not valid rebuttal.

  • Johnny Cockring

    Steve Nash deserves no faint praise for his game. He has a fair claim to be the MVP even if race were not a factor. Steve Nash is nasty, a cold-blooded hoop assassin at work.

    But we will never know how Steve Nash might be judged in a land with no racism, because we live in America.