Award sells game at home

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:01 AM ET

PHOENIX -- Jay Triano predictably is too humble to take any credit for Steve Nash's development.

"I've coached a lot of players who didn't win the MVP award in the NBA," Triano said yesterday prior to attending the media conference at which the formal announcement of Nash's achievement was made.

"If I had one inch, just one inch, of anything to do with Steve's improvement, be it with his confidence or whatever, then that would make me very proud. But I'm not going to take anything away from Steve. He did this himself. He did it all."

Triano, the Raptors assistant coach and former Canadian national-team bench boss who coached Nash in many international events, said he bought a ticket for Phoenix as soon as he heard Nash had won the MVP award. The two spent some time together on Saturday and Triano was planning to stick around for Game 1 of the second-round series between Nash's Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks tonight.

"For a young athlete in any sport in our country, if this doesn't inspire you, what will?" Triano said. "It speaks for the underdog. And the best part is, as good a player as Steve is, he's an even better person."

It's unlikely that the 31-year-old Nash, who has twin baby daughters at home, will play for Canada again. But Nash being named MVP gives credence to everything new national-team coach Leo Rautins has been selling to young hoopsters as he criss-crosses the nation.

"As I've said to lots of kids, 'We may have only two Canadians in the NBA, but both of them have been all-stars,' " said Rautins, referring to Nash, who hails from Victoria, B.C., and Toronto's Jamaal Magloire.

"Steve is selling the game. He's helping me sell the game."

As much as the Canadian team has benefitted from Nash's participation through the years, Rautins pointed out the benefits have cut both ways.

PRODUCT OF NATIONAL TEAM

"Steve is a product, too," Rautins said. "I don't think he would be where he is without the national team.

"Back in the early days of his pro career, when he was struggling in the NBA, people still would see him putting together killer performances for Canada. That makes people more willing to believe in you, to stick with you.

"The Canadian national team is part of Steve Nash's success story."


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