Race and the NBA: Is Steve Nash Getting A Pass On Fatherhood?

Would an African-American player be getting glowing praise for sticking near his kids?

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Matt York / AP

In this April 25, 2012 photo, Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash leaves the court after an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs in Phoenix.

Let’s hear it for the Father of the Year, Steve Nash, who says he’s moving from Phoenix to Los Angeles because he wants to be close to his kids, who happen to live in, well, Phoenix. But to his adoring fans in the sports media, it’s another classy move by the NBA’s ultimate Character Guy. Check out the reactions at ESPN.com: “I can’t fault a guy for wanting to stay as close to his family as possible.” “I’m always impressed when players make family considerations and winning a top priority.” “It says a lot about Nash’s character.” Funny how a white guy can move to a better job in a better city with a better organization without becoming history’s greatest monster.

Honestly, I’ve got nothing against Steve Nash. If he wants to live near his kids—though apparently not too near—then more power to him. (Although it’s worth noting that in the off season, Nash lives in Manhattan, which is also farther from Phoenix than Phoenix.) No, this is just another excuse for me to complain about the national consensus that LeBron James—who, like Nash, played eight years of sterling basketball for a lousy owner, and, like Nash, fulfilled his contract without complaining—was somehow history’s greatest monster because he moved to Miami to play for a team with other players who didn’t suck. As I wrote in Swampland, there is strong evidence that the LeBron backlash is not unrelated to race; even in Florida, his approval-disapproval ratings are only 26-20 among whites, versus 63-7 among blacks.

(MORE: Some Thoughts on LeBron, Obama, and Race. And Some Gloating.)

LeBron is known as an athletic freak, which he is, but he’s also an incredibly smart, unselfish, hardworking winner who plays the right way; nevertheless, he became a symbol of me-first ballers. Nash is an athletic freak, too, creative and instinctive, and he doesn’t work nearly as hard as LeBron on defense; nevertheless, he’s known as a scrappy, team-first traditionalist who relies on brain and grit. Now he’s being hailed as a hero for taking less money to pursue a title; LeBron, the most underpaid player in the NBA, also sacrificed cash to chase a championship, but somehow he was known as a narcissist.

Yeah, I get it, LeBron did a dumb TV show. Jeff Daniels is doing a dumb TV show as we speak, but America will forgive him. America isn’t so forgiving of proud black athletes. If LeBron ever announced that he was moving away from his children so that he could be close to his children, you can be sure there would be talk about his character, too, but it wouldn’t sound quite this glowing.

VIDEO: LeBron James: Making the Shot

31 comments
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Lac818
Lac818

Wow! This guy is clueless. how can u write something so stupid?

FranchisePlaya
FranchisePlaya

It's my understanding that during the offseason his kids actually reside with him and during the season with his ex- wife so it's irrelevant where he spends his off season. no one can say whether or not Nash may have stayed in Phoenix if they hadn't absolutely lowballed and insulted him with a chintzy 2 yr 12 mil offer. There were a myriad of factors in Nash's decision incl. money proximity and chances for a ' chip that I think we can all understand and make determinations on how we feel about Nash but race is not one of them. This is lowest common denominator journalism at its finest.

angry3
angry3

Think Nash's wife has to sue for child support, like Bosh's ex girlfriend?

angry3
angry3

Why do people keep ignoring the fact that a lot of people got on LeBron's case because of the rally in Miami when he guaranteed "not one, not two..etc" and claimed it would be so easy, Riley could play the point? You think Nash is getting up anywhere and declaring a championship a done deal? 

Why do these hacks insist on filtering the LeBron dislike through their own prism. It's like saying people are wrong for not liking cheese..some people don't like it! Guess what, I'm fine with LeBron..it's Bosh who I dislike because he whined about sacrifice and lack of shots while getting paid the same as LeBron, when the world knew his leadership on a team doesn't even get you to the playoffs.

angry3
angry3

How about BOSH getting a free ride for not exactly being father of the year to the child he had out of wedlock?! Bosh, the "nice" guy who is being sued for child support? Does he get a pass because he passes as "unselfish"?? 

Lennner
Lennner

who ever wrote this shit doesn't know anything about nash's situation and u should be hit by a bus... it's sad how many stupid people we have in our society ... wow..

RaymondOpal70516166
RaymondOpal70516166

like Leonard responded I am shocked that a stay at home mom can earn $4499 in one month on the computer. did you see this web page N u t t y R i c h dot cöm

Sidney Baxter
Sidney Baxter

like Leonard responded I am shocked that a stay at home mom can earn $4499 in one month on the computer. did you see this web page N u t t y R i c h d o t c ö m

Sidney Baxter
Sidney Baxter

like Leonard responded I am shocked that a stay at home mom can earn $4499 in one month on the computer. did you see this web page N u t t y R i c h dot cöm

Adfun7
Adfun7

Horrible article, there is not a reason in the world to make this about race. I'm a Lebron fan I think he gets a bad rap. I'm a Nash fan as well. Cannot see how either situation has to do with race. Ignorant write up.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

Let's compare apples to oranges for the purpose of sucking people into a created controversy that should make white people clearly aware of their racist double standards. Right. Furthermore, why is it assumed that because black people have higher approval ratings for LeBron than whites, that they are somehow less race-oriented and biased than the author alleges whites to be?? 

I know from speaking to a number of black people about LeBron that they tended to process his departure as him simply seeking better opportunities for himself, and that he as a grown black man deserved to be able to make up his own mind. Him having "freedom of choice" seemed to trump all other considerations.  So, there's a subtext having to do with the history of civil rights in this country that influences how these things are perceived in the black community.

joejoe21
joejoe21

‎2. Comparing what Steve Nash did today to what Lebron James did two years ago is laughable as well. First, this was a long unnecessarily drawn out process that culminated in a hour long special. And remember, when Lebron left, he took the other two prized free agents people were talking about that summer as well. Second, Nash going to LA doesn't change the complexion of the league. People don't like LeBron and the Heat because they're like the Yankees now. Balance of power is pretty much shot when those 3 guys all signed on to be on the same team. Yeah, that ticked a lot of people off because it fundamentally changed the NBA. 

CP3 bailed on NO to go to LA, and no one freaked out at him. That's because he didn't change the complexion of the league, and more importantly, he wasn't a huge d-bag about it. Remember when Gary Payton and Karl Malone went to LA? Again, it didn't piss people off, because they weren't a-holes.

morf
morf

I disagree- for one, the mavericks beat them last year. secondly, i seem to remember people saying 'whoever wins the west is gonna stomp whoever comes out of the east'  didn't seem unbalanced then.  and i do think nash going to LA changes the complexion of the league. the Lakers weren't contenders and now they are, just like the Heat two years ago.  

joejoe21
joejoe21

1- The comparison between Lebron's self-absorbent free agency search (in which he probably knew what he was going to do the whole time, and was just leading people on) that ended in the ridiculous "The Decision", and an actor doing a bad television show is so absurd I can't even begin to describe it. Lebron is an athlete that did a self absorbent, hour-long, one off special that could have been done in a segment on Sportscenter for 2 minutes, then had a preseason championship celebration. Actors, who are on TV all the time, make bad movies. They're not all going to be golden. But to compare "The Decision" to a bad TV show is a woeful understatement. Guess what? Morgan Freeman did "Bruce Almighty" but we still love him, Samuel L. Jackson did "Snakes on a Plane" but we still love him, and we still love Eddie Murphy even though he did this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... .

CSCHOP
CSCHOP

This guy should be fired for such a senseless article.

JoeJoe
JoeJoe

I think I pulled my eye muscles from rolling them in this article.

Cody Douglas
Cody Douglas

Jesus CHRIST U are one of the most Pathetic Joke of a "Reporter" ive ever seen Calling a dude a bad father cus he said he wanted to be Closer to his Kids? im lost hear u dont even know this dude yet U are calling him a Bad father?? i guess ur just trying to get attention So more people will Read Ur Terrible Article And i guess u Some were some what successful in doing that but  reading this will in sure that i will NEver read another one of ur  ridiculous Postings AGain Get a Life and quit trying to Get attention ANd quit UR JOB KNOW

Sam
Sam

"Yeah, I get it, Lebron did a dumb TV show." ... Understatement of the year. THAT'S why we all started hating him! And he's not smart (off the court at least). He's the worst PR athlete in the history of sports - again also why we hate him - because he says ridiculous things. Not to mention, flop city. How can you compare Nash's departure to Lebron's? Put your race card and, for the sake of all of us, your laptop away. 

[a] proxy
[a] proxy

This article was pointless and a waste of time.

Nwvotes
Nwvotes

Rivals Kobe Bryant and Steve Nashare now teammates. Do you think this duo can make it work? Vote at Nationwidevotes.com 

Arsenalfc1223
Arsenalfc1223

i am glad king james got his ring and never was a hater but you sound like a whiner dude.wh y dont we just pull the race card everytime somebody other than a black person is glorified in the media while we are at it? is this floyd mayweather writing this article?

NobodyAskedYou
NobodyAskedYou

This article makes no mention of the fact that Nash is divorced from the mother of his three kids or that Phoenix made Nash an insulting offer. Nor does it mention that the youngest of Nash's three kids, his son Matteo, is 19 months old. So let's all fault the guy because he wants his son to know who his dad is.

The LeBron situation was completely different. He was on a 60-win team that was considered the favorite and it was in his home state. He was completely aware of Cleveland's tortured sports history and chose to add to it. Nash's Suns missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and fans were more than willing to accept it was time to move on and give him a chance somewhere else.

LeBron was also entering the prime of his career -- not the twilight of it, like Nash. Does the author know how often Nash sees his kids when he spends his summers in Manhattan? Does the author also know that LeBron's kids stayed in Akron during his first season with the Heat?

From Michael Grange of SportsNet in Canada (http://bit.ly/Nd8Io7): "Nash has shared custody of his three children with his ex-wife. The terms of their custody arrangement are shaped by the NBA season. When he's at home the kids are with him, when he's on the road they're with his ex-wife; they split the summers."

How does this guy get paid for his uninformed opinions???

This isn't even about comparing Nash and LeBron or black and white. It's more about comparing young and old (in the context of sports). 

Please let the author know that he should feel free to email me if he wants to know more. I would bet my money that he's either a Knicks fan who can't believe that Nash didn't want to play for his beloved tortured team or he's a Heat fan who still doesn't get why so many people hate LeBron.

Matt
Matt

My friend was in NY last week and saw Steve Nash their with two of his kids!! This writer is an idiot, him living away from his kids does not mean he does not see them!! Plus the suns management realized it was time for Nash to leave! I'm so sick of hearing that people hate lebron cause he is black, race has NOTHING to do with it!!

Kingofcali Hs
Kingofcali Hs

your judging a man who wants to win but doesnt want to go to ny or toronto due to distance yes his kids live in phx (losing team) and yes he went to LA but he a whole lot closer than ny and toronto..... and you want to compare him to an over rated player who promised a trophy in cleveland he couldnt deliver then ran to miami so he can have a superstar who actually deserves a ring back him up instead of holding his own andproving himself instead of d wade and bosch doin all the work

Abeysdream
Abeysdream

@ least Chris Bosh is been recognise as a super star. We only hear about Wade and Lebron on national television and nothing is been said concern Chris effort or the points he put up during regular and playoff season. Bosh was the heart of Raptors organization and we all love and wish him the best when he left toronto. Nash or Lebron I believe any sport man should be allow to go where ever they choose to play without any hard feelings

LegalBagel
LegalBagel

About Nash:  Well, if he wanted to prioritize and be near his kids, he'd stay in Phoenix.  Heaven knows that he has enough money that he never needs to play another game.  He could find some other way to work or invest while keeping Phoenix as his primary residence and do just fine financially.  Apparently basketball and ego are more important than his kids....  As for James:  He's another egomaniac, just like Nash....  I love basketball, as a sport.  I think a man's family is always more important than an optional job. 

Fonzy1984
Fonzy1984

I don't know what to say cause I see what your saying but I was the biggest LeBron fan when I saw he wasn't a ball hog and he dished the ball like Magic, and I loved the guy.. I think it was somewhat unfair for me to not like him after he left Cleveland but it had nothing to do with his race!! I was mad that he didn't win it in Cleveland because I felt he deserved it and was upset for him when they lost in the finals and in the playoffs but I wasn't mad at the guy at the time I just wanted him to win his championship for himself like I want Nash to win his. Then he did the decision and then promised rings and the whole show they did in Miami was so arrogant I couldn't cheer for him anymore... I think you are race bating here. People come off badly sometimes and sometimes they are white and sometimes they are black. I used to not like Kobe when he entered the league because he was a ball hog I saw games where he actually made a pass and hit his teammate because the teammates never expected to get the ball so I guess I'm a racist back then??? But I started liking Kobe when he became a team player and I had to give him his props. He came off badly in his cheating scandal but I never even was mad at the guy like I was at LeBron but clearly that's backwards if you compare those two situations. It's not a race issue its an expectations issue. We all wanted LeBron to win his championship and he did nothing wrong but we all expected him to win it himself and leaving Cleveland to chase a championship while he is young and doing it the way he did made him look like a shit head. Is it right that we turned on him?? No. But does that make it a race issue?? Again NO. The last white guy that was somewhat on the top like LeBron and Magic was Larry Bird and there once again is the expectations put on a person. I never had the expectations for Nash to win like I did for Magic or Larry or LeBron, but if Larry had handled situations like LeBron I would felt the same way I did towards LeBron.... I love the Suns and hate that Nash is leaving but he is older and I think in general we give some leeway to older players in the expectations department. I'm happy for LeBron but wish he'd done things differently. I actually don't like that Nash is going to L.A. but Nash is no LeBron. IDK you guys can play the race game all you want, your just looking for a race war.

Disneypayton
Disneypayton

Its not about race. It's about sports. James joined fellow young super star athletes to win a championship. That changed the game amp; now other teams must stack up on players just to compete. James, wade and bosh put on a concert like tv show and promised to win. Then lost. That's why he was such a villain.

Think about it
Think about it

 Correction:   Lebron and the Heat just won the NBA finals after having lost the first time around when they again reached the finals, which is no small feat.

It's crazy that people actually assumed that the Heat would win just because of the big three. How many examples could be given for teams loaded with talent who couldn't win the big one? The 76ers before they finally got it done; the Orlando Magic during the Shaq/Penny era. Even Jordan and the bulls before Cliff Leviston gave them a little muscle to help them get past the intimidating Bad Boys of Detroit.

And getting back to the Heat. Had Miller and other members of the supporting cast not stepped up big in the winning game, and the ref had made the right call in the one the game before, the Heat very well may not have won this year either!

Regardless of what you think about the article, it does bring up the question:  Why do people hate Lebron so much?

morf
morf

I thought the Celtics changed the game when they brought together the big three, that lebron and wade on their respective teams couldn't get past in the playoffs. They've even said that was the model for them getting together. The only difference is one was orchestrated by a super rich team owner, and the other was players exercising their agency.

TheDocMontalban
TheDocMontalban

Thank you! I've been saying it since the minute that PR nonsense came out. Don't get me wrong, I love Nash generally, but he used the kids to soft-pedal the decision to chase a ring. Phoenix is, indeed, as close to Phoenix as it gets. Living in Manhattan in the off-season is probably not the best way to see the kids more. It's incredible this is the first article calling this out without equivocating.

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