Players can sometimes lose their temper in the middle of a match, even if it means saying quite shocking things to their opponents or the referees. Except that some people sometimes go (much) too far… Steve Nash notably saw himself threatened with death as a player, a fact that he related a few years later.
Legendary leader as he was during his career, Steve Nash never distinguished himself by his athletic qualities. The former Suns franchise player was rather puny, even for his position and could therefore quite easily be pushed around on the field. This was particularly the case in defense, where he was regularly targeted in order to obtain a very favorable mismatch.
However, that did not mean that he was unemployed in his half of the field, and the genius passer sometimes elbowed in order to impose them. Except that he had to choose his victim, which he did not do on one occasion… During a match against Detroit, he had rubbed shoulders with a certain Ben Wallace a little too closely. Among the leaders of the league as a pivot, the guy had released a scathing statement that he is not about to forget, as he told The Athletic :
Ben Wallace furious with Steve Nash after manly contact
I was chasing someone off a screen, and he caught me multiple times with his own screen. Since I’m a naive competitor, I went for him as hard as I could next time. I think he told me he was going to kill me if I did it again. Sometimes we forget that we are only 1.90m tall and weigh 80kg when we are in the heat of the moment.
For the trouble, we want to believe the Canadian. Remember that not only was Ben Wallace about 2m05 tall for 110 kilos, much more than Nash, but he was so muscular that he put on headbands… around his biceps, that is to say their width. Nevertheless, the Hall of Famer does not hold any grudge against his vis-à-vis, quite the contrary:
Ben was, obviously, an incredible defender, rebounder and circle protector, as well as an excellent screener. He had an incredible career.
Again, the former player is absolutely right. Originally undrafted, Big Ben became a legend on the side of the Pistons, notably participating in the fabulous 2004 title against the Lakers of Shaq and Kobe. Four times best defender in the league, twice best rebounder and once best blocker, he was a reference in his position despite his lack of qualities in attack. It is therefore no surprise that his jersey was retired at MoTown:
Rubbing shoulders with Ben Wallace was anything but a good idea, because the guy had some backing. Luckily for Steve Nash, he took his advice and didn’t try his luck again! It would have ended badly, otherwise…