He is going to explain what it means to play for Canada, to try to make them comprehend the significance of pulling on that jersey, to make them understand what it can do for them personally and professionally and if that message doesn’t get through it’s on the kids rather than on the guy delivering it.
On the eve of his first camp as the national team’s general manager — and with his partner in past success Jay Triano now back on board as the team’s head coach — the two-time MVP is going to lay out what playing internationally for Canada really means.
“I can say from experience, playing for the national team was more valuable to my development than any of the other stuff, any of the all-star games, any of the spotlight, spectacle showcases,” Nash said at the news conference Thursday confirming Triano’s second stint at the national team coach.
“So we want to be able to have an imprint on their lives and their schedule so that they’re getting the most out of their ability and they have the best opportunity to play a long time, make a lot of money and be successful, represent their country and give our country a chance to be very successful and being a leading basketball country.”
Nash and Triano have invited 27 prospects to the four-day camp that begins Friday at the Air Canada Centre in a search for the core group that will hopefully lead Canada to international prominence in the next four years.
The invitees run the gamut from prep school teenagers like Trey Lyles of Saskatoon to seasoned NBA veterans like Joel Anthony of the Miami Heat. The only prominent names missing are prep school standouts Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis, each of whom has a previous commitment. It is very much a ‘get to know you’ camp heading into next year, when Canada has to try to qualify for the 2014 world championships.
“For me, playing on the national team was invaluable as far as where I am in my career,” he said. “Without the national team I may not have been an NBA player, without the national team I would not have had the success I’ve had. I want to offer the same opportunity and then some to these kids.”
Triano, who last coached Canada in 2005 and was the head coach during a stirring run at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, will be charged with finding a group that can blend and build toward the 2014 world championships and 2016 Rio Games.
“We will build relationships this week and that will be part of the discussion,” he said. “We’re going to produce the plan that is a four-year plan right now and ask them to be part of it. We will see through their commitment, whether they float in or out of the pool, whether they’ll commit to that.”
And if they don’t?
“To have Steve say the greatest basketball experience of his life was playing in the Olympic Games, if that message doesn’t resonate with our young kids, then we have to evaluate whether we want them representing our country,” said Triano.
“I think it will.”