by Craig Lawson
When veteran documentary film maker Michael Hamilton approached the White House to ask whether President Barack Obama would be willing to talk to him about Steve Nash, he knew it was a long-shot, but he managed to get a sit-down interview with the President, who proceeded to praise Nash's character.
When Hamilton prefaced a question to Kobe Bryant with, "I know Steve Nash isn't really athletic," Bryant cut him off, and told him how he hates when people say that about Nash, and went on to explain why Nash is athletic and why what Nash does is so special - and this was long before Nash became his teammate.
And whereas President Obama focused on his character and Bryant on his athleticism, actor Owen Wilson fixated on Nash's name. "It's kind of a funny name, isn't it? I'm just saying it, ‘Steve Nash.' It's a little bit like an action hero. It's a cool-sounding name. ‘Steve Nash.'"
Watching that clip, Wilson reminds me so much of Dirk Nowitzki that I could see him playing Dirk if there was ever a Hollywood buddy movie based on the Nash / Nowitzki friendship.
But Hamilton is not making a buddy movie. He's making a full-length documentary feature on Steve Nash, whose atypical path from west-coast Canadian kid to two-time Most Valuable Player for the Phoenix Suns has captured the imagination of underdogs everywhere, and whose dedication to his craft has provided a solid road map for anyone to follow, regardless of profession.
In an email interview, I asked Hamilton, who is also a Canadian, what first drew him to Nash, and indeed it was the unlikelihood of Nash's journey. "I think I was in college. What really drew me to him is that back then it was unheard of for Canadians to be getting attention in basketball, so when I guy from Canada started making noise, it was cool to see. I've followed him ever since."
Hamilton longingly recalled a Slam magazine photo featuring many players from the fabled draft class of 1996. "Back then, looking at that photo, if someone would have asked people to pick the guy who would win back-to-back MVP awards, do you think one person would have picked Steve Nash? No chance."
Hamilton's documentary, which in addition to President Obama, Bryant and Wilson, also features Nowitzki, Tony Parker, Yao Ming, Baron Davis, Commissioner David Stern, Snoop Dogg, David Beckham, Hollywood moguls Ron Howard and Doug Ellin, and illusionist David Blaine, all discussing what makes Nash so special.
But Hamilton's movie is much more than just a long list of celebrities singing Nash's praises.
Hamilton was given incredible behind-the-scenes access into Nash's personal life - almost all of it filmed when Nash was a member of the Phoenix Suns - and the footage of Nash away from the spotlight will be the big draw for Nash fans. In a promotional piece for the film, Hamilton writes, "This project has given me a front row seat to the never dull but sometimes very private life of Steve. His prowess and work ethic on the court speaks for itself, but now fans will get a rare glance into what drives one of the world's most influential people off the court."
Given that Hamilton has spent so much time with Nash, I asked him for a little insight into what he thinks makes Nash so special. Hamilton had this to say: "Nash really cares. He cares about life, his craft, his family, his Foundation. I find a lot of celebrities do things simply for the public relations and the attention it will get them. Steve isn't alone in caring, but what he does just feels genuine."
While the shooting for Nash: The Movie is now complete, the film itself is not. To pay for the final distribution stage and to get the film in front of as many people as possible, Hamilton has just launched a 38-day Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000.
Hamilton has made it clear that although Nash has provided him with extensive access into his personal life, Nash is the subject of the documentary, and not involved in any way this the film's production, editing, or financing.
As a life-long Nash fan on the wrong side of 40, I've contributed $150 to Hamilton's Kickstarter campaign, but Hamilton is accepting contributions as small as $1, recognizing that this will allow more Nash fans to feel a small sense of ownership of the movie.
What's even better is that, regardless of the size of the donation, each donation receives some considerable gifts, all related to Nash: The Movie.
I asked Hamilton whether the long process of creating this documentary - which is nearly complete but has not yet crossed the finish line - reminds him at all of the long journey that Nash faced on his way to the NBA.
Hamilton replied that the process has taught him never to be complacent. "No matter what you have, never be satisfied. Always strive to be better at whatever you set your mind to, and when it's all said and done you'll know you gave it everything you had."
That sounds an awful lot like Steve Nash to me.
You can watch the trailer for Nash: The Movie, and hear Hamilton's pitch, by viewing the Kickstarter campaign page.
Whether or not you're able to contribute to Hamilton's campaign, please consider forwarding this article, which will help move this very worthwhile project about Steve Nash - a high-character and very athletic action hero - to a big screen near you.
Craig Lawson is the owner and sole contributor of the web site Steve-Nash-Chronicles.com, which is dedicated to documenting the final stages of Nash's career on a game-by-game basis. You can follow him on twitter @stevenashchroni .