Nash may decline Canada Basketball

Nash, Canada’s best player and the face of the national men’s program for nearly a decade, didn’t hide his feelings after coach Triano was dumped by Canada Basketball in October after some six years with the team.“We have the greatest respect for Steve in that he’s supporting his former coach, but as we all know, coaches not having their contracts renewed are part of sports,” Fred Nykamp said Tuesday.

“That’s unfortunate but it’s part of the process and we think athletes do realize that, that it happens from time to time.”

“It’s certainly not going to help me playing for the national team again,” Nash told The Canadian Press last Friday before a game in Seattle. “I can’t say I will never play again but (the firing) certainly didn’t help.”

Canada Basketball is expected to announce its new head coach in mid- to late January. The three finalists are Leo Rautins, Kevin Hanson and Gord Herbert.

Rautins is a former national team and NBA player and is currently a TV analyst, Hanson is the head coach at the University of British Columbia and coached Canada’s development squad to a bronze medal at the 2003 world university games, and Herbert was an assistant to Triano and coached the Opel Skyliners to the German league title last season.

Nykamp said Nash hasn’t offered his opinions about who should get the job.

Nash’s last Canadian team appearance, the 2003 Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico, was a disappointing one. Canada lost the bronze-medal game to the host country, just missing out on a berth for the Athens Olympics.

Nash, 30, was voted MVP of the tournament, but afterward the point guard hinted it may have been his final Canadian team appearance, saying the long summers were taking a toll on his body.

“Jay knew that even if he was back I may never play again,” Nash said last week. “It has got to the stage of my career where it’s becoming more and more difficult to play, physically and mentally, with all the obligations and commitments I have.”

In 2000, the Canadian squad turned heads at the Sydney Olympics, where, with Triano coaching and Nash on the floor, Canada defeated mighty Yugoslavia en route to a surprising seventh-place finish.

If he was to leave the Canadian program, the Victoria point guard would leave gigantic shoes to fill.

“I think that would be disappointing for Canada Basketball, we would look forward very much to having Steve continue on if he was able to,” said Nykamp. “But again we respect his many obligations, his new family, his incredible performance right now.

Nash has been instrumental in a brilliant turnaround for Phoenix since signing a five-year deal, worth $66 million US with the Suns in the off-season. The Suns (22-3) boast the best record in the NBA, and Nash leads the league in assists.

Off the court, Nash became a father in October when his longtime girlfriend Alejandra Amarilla gave birth to twin daughters Lourdes and Isabella.

Nykamp hopes if Nash decides not to play for the Canadian team, he’ll take on another role within the program, either on the “development side or the leadership side.”

“With his breadth of experience and his background, his contributions, and also what he himself has experienced through the Canada Basketball program, there would be a tremendous opportunity for Steve, and it’s something we’re going to work toward,” said Nykamp.

TSN

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