"Mental toughness encapsulates physical toughness."
--Steve Nash, two-time NBA Most Valuable Player as the point guard of the Phoenix Suns, and new free-agent acquisition of the Los Angeles Lakers.
"With Steve it's all about the flow." -- Bill Duffy, Steve Nash's agent.
Flow, of course, is a term for that state of mind that artists and athletes strive to enter into, and which in full flood entails an ecstatic expansion of consciousness that releases them from confines of the self and produces crowning moments of creativity.
"My first and second years in the N.B.A., I used to get really nervous in a tight game. But now I wait for that moment when things are really close - that's what I really love. Having the ball in my hands and the responsibility makes me feel calm and open. Not to have that, not to get to that point in a game, would feel really...really confining."
--Steve Nash, who still seeks his first NBA championship.
An interviewer asked, "Was there one shot or game when you first felt that way?"
"Probably it built over time - I don't want it to sound like there's anything too mystical about it."
"I've always said when Steve retires, I'll retire. I don't want anyone to be able to figure out whether our success is because of my system or Steve's ability to make it work. There's a period in a player's life where the novelty wears off. You've got kids and money, and sometimes your basketball flame begins to flicker. And then a few years later, you realize you've got a limited amount of time and this is the best it's ever gonna be. I think Steve is one of those guys who has always lived for the game. You can have all the money in the world, but for the great players the only thing that matters is winning a title."
--Mike D'Antoni, former Phoenix Suns head coach.
"There are nights when I ask myself, 'Am I really playing basketball?' But that's mostly from the stuff around the game: talking to the media, taking the bus, getting warmed up. Once I'm out on the court, in the game, the game is great."
"I don't know. I have a lot of energy and a lot of motivation. I have a hard time sitting still. I guess in a way I can't live with the alternative to being driven, which is sitting around being bored. If I'm going to go for something, I'm really going to go for it. I think I realized as a kid that I would keep going when other kids stopped. If my legs are there, if my quickness is there, I can have a good game. If not, I try to find other ways of making plays without being quick. Making smart plays. Making the game simple."
--Steve Nash, responding to a question about what drove him and motivated him beyond the obvious goal of a championship.
Excerpts from Play magazine November 2007.