Bronco legend Kurt Rambis ’80 inducts Steve Nash ’96 as the latest member of the SCU Hall of Fame.
Too slow. Can’t jump. Not quick, long, or strong enough. NBA scouts thought Steve Nash ’96 and Kurt Rambis ’80 had a lot in common. Now they have one more thing: the Santa Clara University Hall of Fame.
Rambis inducted Nash at the Red and White celebration earlier this month. The two-time NBA MVP entered the Hall of Fame with his teammates from ’92-’93 and ’95-’96. Both teams won NCAA tournament games: upsetting two-seed Arizona in ’93 and seven-seed Maryland in ’96.
Twenty years later, Nash’s story is just as improbable: a six-foot nothing guard from Canada that parlayed his one and only scholarship offer into an 18-year NBA career. Rambis and Nash took turns trying to make sense of the ride.
Rambis pointed to the identical scouting reports but conflicting results. “I proved all of those scouts right,” he said. “Steve got all those scouts fired.”
Nash thanked his parents, teammates, and coaches at SCU. Nash’s dad, a former professional soccer player, taught him to see the game differently. Using angles and changes of pace to make up for his athletic limitations. Nash turned awkward into an art form.
“I had a dad who said, you can trick people, you can deceive them, you can fool them,” Nash said. “You can be great even though you might not be able to out-run and jump them.”
More lessons for Nash: Fatherhood taught him to appreciate his time at SCU even more. Santa Clara made him tough. Having the stability of Carroll Williams and then Dick Davey made that possible. Looking at his kids, he hopes they have coaches have the courage to be tough on them.
“I wasn’t trying to go to the city or Silicon Valley, which didn’t exist when I went here a million years ago. I wanted to play in the NBA. To go up against men who were fighting for their job, you had to be so resilient and coach Davey, every day, was a test in resilience,” Nash said. “If you played for coach Davey, you’re tough.”
Lots has changed on campus at Santa Clara since his playing days—for the better, Nash says. But underneath the new buildings are the bones that provided structure, and that’s important to him.
“I’m incredibly proud. Life moves on. I feel so far away from the school sometimes but my heart always feels so close to the school,” Nash said. “At the end of the day, we all just want to be the best version of ourselves, whether it’s a basketball player or a member of a community or parents or part of the fabric that is Santa Clara that permeates itself out into the world. That for me is what makes this school incredible, to see how far we’ve reached and see how many things we’ve done together.”
May 21, 2017
Steve Nash ’96 speaks at the Red & White Hall of Fame celebration. Photo courtesy SCU Athletics