Steve Nash was back in the motherland Tuesday and other than Edmonton — where superstar Sidney Crosby visited for the first time — all of Canada was talking about his decision to bypass the national team and its Olympic aspirations to focus his time and energy on winning an NBA title in Phoenix.
Fans screamed that “Captain Canada” was letting his country down. Fellow Arizona squatter Wayne Gretzky, they argued, played for Canada until he was approaching 40. And when he hung up his skates, he picked and ran the national team.
So why doesn’t Nash do the same? It’s a silly comparison:
• Gretzky was a complementary player in his last few international competitions. He was window dressing on teams that boasted Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Joe Thornton and a dozen other stars.
But Nash isn’t only the most popular and best basketball player from Canada … he’s just about it, folks. Gretzky played on a team that could have won with or without him. Nash would be playing for a team that couldn’t win with or without him.
• The Winter Olympics came in the middle of the NHL, when the league shuts down for three weeks and the players are in prime shape. For NBA players, the summer games come right in the middle of the offseason, forcing conscientious sorts like Nash to train year-round and risk injury, fatigue and burnout in the process.
Nash has put Canada on the basketball map. He played internationally. He played in the Olympics. He raises millions of dollars for charities in Canada, opened gyms in Vancouver and has been an impeccable ambassador.
Let his country down? If only everyone was so neglectful.
We’re at 23-12 and consistently a week late on the Cardinals — how did the Browns blow that one? But with the Big Red the only team playing for a while (a few weeks for ASU, spring football for the Cats), let’s tack on the top NFL games as well:
• Seahawks 27, Cardinals 12: If the Big Red can win this one, they would be sitting pretty. But with so many impact players either out or hurt, going to Seattle and beating a seasoned team that can wrap up the division is too tall an order. (This is my best attempt at reverse psychology).
• New England 30, Pittsburgh 13: Was journeyman Anthony Smith giving the Patriots bulletin board material by predicting a Steelers win? For all the Pats know, Smith installed their bulletin board. But they appreciate having something else to be mad at.
• Bills 24, Dolphins 20: At 0-12, the Dolphins are looking past this one to the Patriots, where they can save the franchise twice with one inspired effort.
• After watching the Dodgers overpay again — this time for Andruw Jones — the rest of the National League West can rest easy. The scariest team in the division still hasn’t figured out a good way to use its vast resources.
Usually, when the Braves let someone go, there’s a good reason.
• I’m not saying Tim Tebow should win the Heisman Trophy. But to say the kid shouldn’t win it because he’s a sophomore is an empty argument.
• Congrats to Kip Helt and his Suns game operations team for earning one of two honorable mentions for best presentation by the Web site gameopps.com. The New Orleans Hornets won the 2007 award, edging out the Suns and minor league baseball’s Fresno Grizzlies.
• Here’s Allen Iverson’s NBA career in a nutshell. He scored 51 against the Lakers Wednesday, and his Denver Nuggets lost.
• Miami coach Cam Cameron has reportedly relinquished the play-calling duties with the Dolphins. Geez, Cam, what was you first clue it might not be working?
• Dennis Dixon doesn’t even get invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation? Doesn’t the fact that Oregon was the No. 2 team in the nation with him and couldn’t win a single game without him mean anything? The voting for the top award in college football is almost as pathetic as the way they decide a champion.