January 29, 2003

Nash Named to Second-Straight All-Star Appearance

Jan. 28, 2003

By Lori Ewing
Canadian Press

(CP) - When Steve Nash was growing up in Victoria, he truly believed, as far fetched as it may have seemed, that he would one day play in the NBA all-star game.

This year, he'll make his second straight appearance in the game. He says it still feels like a dream. "I remember as a kid growing up taping the all-star games and watching them on TV, and to be out there playing is surreal," Nash said Tuesday, after being named a reserve for the Feb. 9 game in Atlanta. "What is amazing is that I really thought I would be out there one day and to actually be out there is such a crazy feeling that the dream actually did come true."

Last season, Nash became the first Canadian to be named to the NBA all-star team. This year, as the point guard for the Dallas Mavericks, the No. 1 team in the NBA, he was a virtual shoo-in.

"It's a great honour," Nash said of making the team for the second straight year. "I think when you look back on your career it will mean a lot more than it does now. Right now, you're so involved in the team and trying to do better.

"It's a big honour and one that is not lost on me at the moment, but these are things that will mean a lot more to my family and friends than myself and my career," added Nash, who was named Canada's male athlete of the year for 2002.

Michael Jordan of the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers centre Shaquille O'Neal were also added as reserves to the NBA's all-star roster, as voted by NBA coaches.

The selections of Nash, Dallas Mavericks teammate Dirk Nowitzki (Germany), Zydrunas Ilgauskas of Cleveland (Lithuania), along with starters Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) and Yao Ming (China), tie the record set last season of five international players.

The six-foot-three Nash is averaging 18.3 points and a team-high 6.8 assists in 33 minutes per game this season. Dallas (34-9) has the NBA's best record.

The entertaining guard said he's thrilled to play alongside teammate Nowitzki in Atlanta.

"We've worked really hard and come from the bottom and worked our way up pretty high now so we're trying to just continue to get better and give our team a chance to win a championship," said Nash, who had a throng of family members - including cousins from England - attend last year's game in Philadelphia. "I love the fact that we can go play in the all-star game together."

Jordan, a 14-time all-star, moves into a tie with Karl Malone and Jerry West for the second-most all-star selections in NBA history behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19).

Malone, who was selected every year since 1988, did not make the cut this season in balloting by the 29 NBA coaches.

Joining Nash and O'Neal on the Western Conference team are Nowitzki, Chris Webber of Sacramento, Gary Payton of Seattle, and Stephon Marbury and Shawn Marion of Phoenix.

In addition to Jordan, Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker of Boston, Jason Kidd of New Jersey, Ilgauskas, Brad Miller of Indiana and Jamal Mashburn of New Orleans will fill out the East roster.

Nash said it doesn't matter that he wasn't named a starter last week, through fan voting.

"Just playing in the game is fine. . . just really having some fun out there and not having so much pressure and urgency," said Nash, who had eight points and nine assists in 24 minutes in last year's game.

Toronto's Vince Carter was named a starter to the Eastern Conference team and was the third-highest vote getter behind the Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Orlando's Tracy McGrady, despite having played in just 10 games prior to the final ballot. Detroit's Ben Wallace, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson were also selected as East starters.

Houston's Steve Francis and Yao, Bryant, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett and San Antonio's Duncan will start for the West.