Best Classy Player in Professional Sports - 2010
Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash
This superhero exudes class. He's a fierce competitor who leaves it all on the court and, somehow, makes no enemies in the process. In interview after interview, his competitors talk as if he's Mahatma Gandhi in sneakers. His charity work is legendary, both locally and nationally. One minute he's hanging out with cancer kids, the next he's rebuilding homes in ravaged neighborhoods, with NBA buddies hammering nails beside him. With the departure of Amar'e Stoudemire to the New York Knicks, Saint Steve is the only superstar left on the Phoenix Suns. He keeps his great attitude despite what must be searing, chronic back pain. You can see him lying flat on the court when he's getting spelled during games, trying to keep the spasms in check. And one reason for the agony has been the necessity of him carrying the team on his back. Not that he ever complains; he would be the first to say that a guy getting paid millions to participate in a playground game needs to just suck it up. Be grateful. At 36, you'd think Nash would be wearing out as a professional jock — point guards like him run close to 20 miles a game — but last season, he played as well as he ever had (though in decreased minutes because of the coming of age of backup Goran Dragic). The Canadian sports legend (only, perhaps, Wayne Gretzky surpasses him in the Great White North) averaged 17 points and a league-leading 11 assists last season — well above his 15 and 8 career totals. In the conference finals against the superior Lakers last season, he averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds. Remember, nice-guy Nash is a pass-first player. Arguably, he could've led the league in scoring during his younger years if he were a ball hog like Kobe Bryant. Though they like him off the court, players tend to beat him up on it (he weighs only 180 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame). He gets fouled a lot. How many times have we seen his nose bloodied or his eye swollen shut? Because of this, and because of his precision shooting skill, he's third all-time in free-throw percentage at .893. and first by a country mile ahead of current players. Nice guys sometimes finish first.