1996 NBA draft is definitely one of the best in history and Steve Nash was one of its members. He was selected with the 15th pick. NBA teams weren’t sure if they want to use their pick to draft a seemingly nonathletic and short white guy. and he wasn’t really the star of the show during his first season. He averaged just 3.3 points in 10.5 minutes and made only 23 three-pointers during the season. It took a few more years for him to break out and it happened in 2000. He averaged 15.6 points and 1.3 threes during the 2000-2001 season and helped Mavs to make the playoffs for the first time since 1990. next year he was even better averaging 1.9 three-pointers per game and he made his first all star game and All-NBA 3rd team. He shot lights out from downtown and ranked 5th in 3-pt percentage (0.455). His Mavericks looked good early in the playoffs as they swept the Timberwolves and Kevin Garnett. Dallas advanced to the 2nd round where they were beaten by the powerful Sacramento Kings and so their postseason was over. Nash with Nowitzki and Finley, who were both also very good shooters, formed the Mavericks big three.
It was the 2003 playoffs when Dallas really showed what they are capable off advancing to the conference finals. Nash missed the majority of the regular season but returned for the playoffs and played an important role for the Mavs. He was deadly from the 3-point land – he made 37 out of 76. Nash and the Mavericks won 52 games the following year but lost to Sacramento in the first round and after the season Nash became a free agent.
Nash was already 30 years old at the time and mark Cuban decided to build the team around younger Nowitzki and his former team Phoenix Suns offered him a better contract so he returned to Arizona.
Phoenix was a young team which apparently lacked one key element and Nash was the real deal. He completely turned around the Suns franchise and they went from 29-53 record to 62-20 league-best record in 2004-05 season. Steve had turned from a borderline all-star player to an elite player and his Suns were on a mission to win the NBA title. the Suns were hot during the first two rounds of the playoffs and beat Steve’s old team in the second round but they couldn’t handle the Spurs in the conference finals so their season was over. however it was a great playoff run for the Suns and Nash was brilliant. He averaged career-high 23.9 points per game in the playoffs. During these playoffs he was more of a scorer than shooter as only 63 of his 358 points came from 3-pointers.
Next year Amare Stoudemire suffered a very serious injury. however the Suns remained strong and Nash remained great. He joined Magic Johnson as the only two point guards in league history to win the MVP trophy 2 times in a row. This was also the first year when he was a starter at the all-star game. Suns again reached the conference finals where they again lost, this time to Nash’s former team, Dallas.
In 2006-07 Nash took more threes and also improved his percentage. He hit 2.1 three-pointers per game and his 3p% was 0.455. Steve was once again in the MVP discussion but he didn’t win it this time but Suns were unable to go further than 2nd round in the playoffs. in the playoffs Nash was a very efficient long distance shooter as he made 19 of 39 three-point shots.
Next regular season was the best for Nash in terms of shooting, he shot 47% from downtown and made 179 threes which are both career-highs for him. Suns had a successful regular season by winning 55 games but for the third time in four years San Antonio eliminated them from the playoffs.
In 2008-09 Suns missed the playoffs for the first time since Steve returned to Phoenix but Nash was still a sharp shooter shooting 44% from 3-point territory and this year Nash has proved that he is still an elite player who is capable of taking his team to a whole another level. Phoenix is not counted as a serious championship contender this year because Suns are overshadowed by the likes of LA, Boston, Orlando and Cleveland but it is up to Nash to prove haters wrong. His long distance shooting ability remains as one of Steve’s main weapons.
San Diego, California News Station – KFMB Channel 8 – cbs8.comOldest former major leaguer turns 101 in Cuba
By PAUL HAVENAssociated Press
HAVANA (AP) – Conrado Marrero can still remember the crisp feeling of slipping on his Washington Senators uniform, and the surge of adrenaline he got staring down Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and other major league batters. But the diminutive right-hander's glory days are a world – and a revolution – away.
The Cuban pitcher who last year became the oldest living former big leaguer turned 101 on Wednesday, surrounded by family and a couple of old friends in his modest Havana apartment, the faded walls in need of paint, the spartan furniture tattered and frayed.
Marrero is hardly in better shape.
He has been confined to a wheelchair since fracturing his hip last year, is hard of hearing and can no longer see. But the man once known as “The Peasant of Laberinto,” after the central Cuban farm where he grew up, still indulges in cigars, and listens avidly to Cuban baseball on the radio.
Not bad for a man who is a year older than Boston's iconic Fenway Park, which celebrated its centenary earlier this month.
Marrero, who was known in his major league days as Connie, speaks with pride about the five years he spent with the Senators, and he raises his voice in excitement when he recalls going against pitchers like Allie Reynolds of the Yankees or Early Wynn, who in those days played for mighty Cleveland.
Beating the Yankees, he says, was the sweetest feeling in the world.
“They were strong,” he said. “They were the best. each batter was a struggle.”
Marrero had less good things to say about his own team, the lowly Senators, who he called “lazy” and error prone. still, he said it was a thrill to suit up every day.
“Putting on that uniform always made me feel bigger, more powerful,” said Marrero, who in his playing days was listed as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 158 pounds. His memory often fails him, and his voice sometimes trails off in mid-thought, but Marrero grows animated when the subject turns to his sport, and he wraps his long wrinkled fingers around a baseball to demonstrate his grip.
He recalls meeting the retired Babe Ruth once in Miami, befriending Connie Mack, and sharing an elevator with Dwight Eisenhower in Washington.
As for the great hitters of his day, Marrero insists he was afraid of no one, although he admits that Williams usually got the better of him.
“One day Williams got two home runs off me, and afterward he came up to me and said 'sorry, it was my day today,” Marrero recalled. “I responded, 'Ted, every day is your day.'”
Marrero doesn't complain about money, but his circumstances are exceedingly modest compared with today's multimillion-dollar players. the stairwell up to his second floor apartment has no lighting, and his living room is empty save for two sagging sofas and a rocking chair.
Marrero is eligible to receive a $20,000 payout granted him under a 2011 agreement between Major League Baseball and the players' association to extend financial help to big leaguers who played between 1947 and 1979, and did not otherwise qualify for a pension. But the money has been held up for months due to the 50-year U.S. economic embargo, which makes financial transactions between the United States and Cuba extremely complicated.
Steve Rogers, a former Expos pitcher who is now an official at the Major League Baseball Players Association, told the associated Press the payment to Marrero has been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department, which regulates trade to sanctioned countries like Cuba, but logistical problems have slowed up actually turning it over.
“They are working diligently to try to get the money to him … but it is just a question of logistics, of physically getting the money there,” he said. “We have all taken this project very personally because he is the oldest living ballplayer, and because of that he is very special. With his 101st birthday, that puts an exclamation mark on the urgency.”
Rogers said he did not have details of what was holding up the payment, but added that he was confident a solution is near. “It's imminent,” he said.
Marrero's grandson, Rogelio Marrero, says the problem is that direct bank transfers to Cuba are impossible, and the players' association does not allow the money to go through an intermediary. But he, too, expresses hope the issue will be resolved soon.
Marrero, who was born in the small town of Sagua la Grande in the central Cuban province of Villa Clara, was already old when he made it to the big leagues as a 39-year-old rookie in 1950 following a standout career in Cuba. And he wasn't your typical big leaguer either. because of his size, he relied on control, guile and a bag full of junk pitches – curves, sliders, knuckleballs and other off-speed stuff.
He compiled a 39-40 record and a 3.67 ERA before being cut ahead of the 1955 season. Marrero was named to the 1951 All-Star team but didn't see action. as a Senator, he played alongside Mickey Vernon and Eddie Yost, yet his teams only once finished with a winning record.
After his big league days were over, Marrero returned to the Cuban minor leagues, ending his career with the Havana Sugar Kings in 1957. Two years later, Fidel Castro's rebels swept into power. Unlike many former big leaguers in Cuba, Marrero chose to stay, becoming a coach and roving instructor, working to develop and coach Cuban players well into his 80s.
Marrero says he doesn't follow the majors much anymore, although he did know that 49-year-old Jamie Moyer recently became the oldest pitcher to win a game. His grandson occasionally shares with him the exploits of A's slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who defected from Cuba last year, joining a long list of Cuban standouts that include Kendrys Morales of the Angels and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds.
Marrero listens to nearly every broadcast of Cuba's playoffs on the radio, and he excitedly talks up youngsters he thinks have potential. “Be careful with Sancti Spiritus,” he said, saying they have a great team.
Rogers said it was somehow appropriate that the world's oldest ballplayer was a Cuban, given the island's contribution to America's national pastime.
“If ever you could pinpoint a common denominator, it's baseball. you could take all of the other issues out there that separate Cuba and the United States, but baseball is the common denominator, and having the oldest ballplayer being a Cuban and someone living in Cuba is fitting,”
Marrero, who lost his wife about 20 years ago, has four children and many more grandchildren and great grandchildren split between Cuba and the United States. he says he's not sure how he lived so long, but he did offer one secret.
“I never had hatred for anyone,” he says. “I treated everyone equally.”
Associated Press writer Anne Marie Garcia contributed to this report.
Paul Haven on Twitter: twitter.com/paulhaven
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