Steve Nash Just Might Be The Next Ali Of Modern Sports: Takes Stand Against Iraq War - U2 Feedback

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Old 02-13-2003, 12:45 AM   #1
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Steve Nash Just Might Be The Next Ali Of Modern Sports: Takes Stand Against Iraq War

Nash stands for peace
NBA all-star put humanitarian issues ahead of personal gain and shoe contracts

Jack Todd
CanWest News Service


Wednesday, February 12, 2003

CREDIT: Tony Gutierrez, Associated Press

Dallas Mavericks' Steve Nash spoke out against an expected war against Iraq, at last week's NBA all-star game.


He is a Canadian in an American sport, a short man in a forest, a mop-topped, courageous, creative, hard-nosed point guard for the Dallas Mavericks who came this close to leading Canada's men's national team to a basketball medal at the Sydney Olympics.

And he is a hero. The real kind, not the kind who gets his name in lights for a dozen assists or a falling-down, left-handed, off-the-glass layup in the face of Shaquille O'Neal.

During the NBA all-star festivities in Atlanta over the weekend, Steve Nash did something that highly paid professional athletes simply don't do any more: He took a political stand on a controversial issue. He put concern about the value of his shoe contracts aside and put humanitarian values at the forefront.

With the world watching, Nash spoke out against the determined drive of George W. Bush's administration to find a pretext to wage war on Iraq. While his peers wore expensive throwback jerseys on media day, Nash wore a jersey with a simple but powerful message: "Shoot for peace."

And he backed it up. The spirit of Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe might be rare among today's athletes, but it is alive:

"I believe the U.S. going to war would be a mistake," Nash told the Globe and Mail's Michael Grange. "I think it's something we need to be very careful with. Being a humanitarian, I believe war is wrong in 99.9 per cent of all cases. Especially in this situation. I think war is a self-defence measure and I don't think Iraq is really threatening right now.

"I think there is definitely something misleading going on right now. I think this is about oil or some sort of distraction. Saddam is a scary person, he's a crazed dictator ... but we haven't found any nuclear weapons, no matter what anyone says and that process [the UN weapons inspections] is still under way. Until that process is finished and decided, I don't think that war is acceptable."

Saddam is a crazed dictator -- but we live in a world where crazed dictators are a dime a dozen. This is a situation where the Bush administration (it's important to distinguish this government from Americans it doesn't really represent) decided a long while ago that it wanted a war and it is going to prosecute that war no matter what the UN inspectors find, no matter how many of its allies are opposed.

A long article in the New Yorker a year ago said senior members of the U.S. administration had already decided to go to war with Iraq. The start date? February 2003.

This is not about hidden weapons; it's about finding an excuse to wage a war for oil.

Under the circumstances, it is important that anyone with public status who has taken the time to educate himself or herself on what is involved here speak out to avoid another massacre in Iraq. That means politicians, entertainment figures, sports stars -- and, yes, sport columnists. After the Gulf War, an independent study that was first suppressed and then altered by the first Bush administration, estimated that 200,000 civilians died as a result of the American-led attacks, 70 times the toll from the World Trade Center attacks. That includes deaths resulting from the loss of such infrastructure facilities as hospitals and water purification plants, but it gives some idea of the horror that will visited on civilians when the U.S. attacks again.

Nash spoke out, and he spoke out with class and dignity. "I don't want to sound like I'm on a soap box or sound like I know it all, because I'm still trying to educate myself," Nash said. "But it's something I believe in and I think people should go out there and try to educate themselves, learn what they can about it so they can make an informed decision about what they want to support.

"Unfortunately, I think a lot of what we hear on the news is misleading and flat-out false. We need to dig deeper and find out what's really going on here, and I think, unfortunately, this is more about oil than nuclear weapons."

Precisely. This war is a naked power grab for Iraqi oil under the guise of an attempt to suppress "weapons of mass destruction." the UN inspectors have not been able to find. "Get your sand off our oil," is how someone put the U.S. position a few weeks ago.

For Nash to oppose the U.S. war is doubly courageous, given that he plays his basketball in Dallas, a right-wing bastion at the heart of big-oil country. The people in what John Le Carre calls the "junta" leading the drive to war -- Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Bush himself -- all once worked (and still work indirectly) for the oil industry. Rice was so deeply involved that her company once named an oil tanker after her.

After 36 years of opposition to attacks by the world's most warlike and aggressive nation against Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq and Kosovo (to name a few) I despair of finding a way to stop an administration that needs war the way people need oxygen. Still it's encouraging to see a leading figure in a corporate sport with the courage to speak out, especially when it would be so easy for Nash to simply go along with the party line and not take the trouble to inform himself on the real causes of this war.

"I just feel a responsibility in some way and don't think I've been responsible enough in searching out the truth, educating myself and creating a position and helping others to do the same," Nash said. "I don't mind what people believe in. I'm not telling people to believe in what I believe in. I just want people to educate themselves."

That "responsibility" is something most prominent athletes have been able to duck, at least since Michael Jordan decided that selling Nikes was more important than opposing North Carolina racist Jesse Helms. Jordan and Tiger Woods exemplify the "new" athlete, Ashe and Ali the old. In that sense Nash is a throwback, a breath of fresh air in a world where nothing matters but endorsement contracts and marketing.

Obviously, Nash alone can't stop a brutal government bent on war. But he can use his position as a basketball star to open some minds; we can't ask for more.

Montreal Gazette
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Old 03-08-2003, 09:54 PM   #2
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being called the "next Ali" just cause he spoke out opposing the war against Iraq....pooolease
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Old 03-08-2003, 10:23 PM   #3
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You took that seriously? haha No, of course he's not the next Ali. He is, though, the first professional athlete to make a political statement in a long time.
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Old 03-09-2003, 04:57 AM   #4
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No he isn't!

Athletes make political statements all the time - stick the name Andy Flower into Google one day and see what that shows you.
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Old 03-25-2003, 09:09 PM   #5
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Steve Nash isn't nearly talented or pretty enough to be compared to Ali.
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Old 03-26-2003, 01:01 AM   #6
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he aint pretty, he aint the greatest of all time either
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Old 03-26-2003, 01:14 AM   #7
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Can he dance like a butterfly? I'm not going to come to any conclusions until I see him dance. Dance, and sting. It better be like a bee too.
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Old 03-26-2003, 01:30 AM   #8
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I don't think Nash is uplifting "his people" in the way that Ali did... the significance of Ali was not just his political views, but how he represented the African-American community in the past century. Is Steve Nash in a civil rights struggle? Has he been in any way oppressed, other than his opinion being ridiculed?

It is probably very offensive to Ali's supporters to hear such a reckless comparison being made...

PS- I'm glad this thread didn't turn into a discussion about his hair, like the last one.

Good article Mike...
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Old 03-26-2003, 03:09 AM   #9
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good point cujoe, Ali did far more than just take a 'stand' against the Vietnam War, which btw, wasnt very popular in America in the first place
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Old 03-26-2003, 04:29 AM   #10
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who cares what Nash thinks about war, i think we should talk about his long flowing locks of hair. woo wee they get me going.
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Old 03-26-2003, 10:07 AM   #11
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Holy moly. Ron MacLean and Don Cherry debated the war on Hockey Night in Canada?
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Old 03-26-2003, 12:38 PM   #12
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a rather more popular and famous canadian athlete has come out in favor of the war... how come no one's posted any threads on that? AH HA!!! I will post the thread!
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