Steve Nash showed a lot of leadership when he said the Suns were going to win Game 6 and force a Game 7 at Staples Center. I’m paraphrasing what he said because it really doesn’t matter what he said as much as why he said it and what it says about him as a leader.
Before we go into particulars, we need to understand the dynamics of being a leader and what leadership looks like.
Great players do; they don’t talk, they do. That’s how they become “great,” by their performance, their production. Leaders are great players that do and say. They lead by example and they say things when people need to hear things they say or when people need to hear the truth.
If you’re not a great player you have no chance of being a leader unless it’s in name only, title only. As stated, a leader must speak from time-to-time and if you are respected for your deeds your words will mean nothing and fall on deaf ears; some may even roll their eyes at the sound of your chattering drivel. Great players don’t have to be leaders but leaders do have to be great players.
Steve Nash is an excellent example of a great player; he does. But after Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, he talked. It’s what leaders do. He was the calming voice in the middle of the maelstrom, sending a signal to his teammates: all is well.
Nash didn’t have to say something publicly but he obviously felt compelled to do so. I have never heard Steve Nash affront the athletic process like he did and the question hangs in the air, the still remains of a horrifying loss: why? Why did he pick this moment to step forward and publicly predict the Suns were headed back to Staples Center?
His teammates were watching. They wanted to see how he would react. He makes Planet Orange go. He’s a 2-time MVP in the National Basketball Association. Unless you’re an NBA official, he demands great respect. And this is exactly why everybody was watching him after the game. How would Nash react? There were others that were being watched but I can promise you none of them carries the clout-club like Nash.
Not only were they watching his body language after the loss, they were waiting to hear from him. He did not disappoint. He told them the truth as he knew it and said what he did with conviction and sincerity. He said what needed to be said. And just in case somebody missed the message, he said it again in front of the world: “We’re going to hold home-court and come here for game 7.”
But he said this for another reason. He wanted his teammates to get over the loss, move on from the horror of Game 5 and embrace the possibility of winning 2 in-a-row, advancing to the NBA Finals. Game 6 is here. There is no time to sulk, no time to reflect on something that cannot be changed. If the Suns are going back to Staples Center, they will do it because they put Game 5 behind them and focused on the task at hand.
Finally, I think He wanted the spotlight on himself and not on his teammates blowing a golden opportunity to win a game at Staples Center. What could be juicier than a humble Steve Nash going Joe “Willie” Namath on the mighty Lakers? Forget about the heartbreaking loss, did you hear what Nash said?
And that’s what leaders do…and say.