Steve Nash, a Hall of Famer and legend in his own right, is not ashamed to admit he’s been star struck before.
In a conversation with TNT’s Ernie Johnson on Monday night, Nash recalled his earliest encounter with Michael Jordan — which led to a request for the G.O.A.T.’s famed footwear.
— NBA (@NBA) May 11, 2020
On the night of Nov. 11, 1996, Nash was sitting on the Phoenix Suns’ bus after a game in Chicago when his teammate Chucky Brown strolled by with a priceless memento in his hands.
“Are those MJ’s shoes?” Nash asked.
Brown confirmed that they were. When Nash wondered how Brown got them, Brown said all he had to do was ask.
“You can do that?” an incredulous Nash said.
At this point, the 22-year-old Nash was only 11 days into his rookie season. Like many young NBA players, he idolized MJ, who was four MVPs and eight scoring titles into his illustrious career.
Nine days later, the Suns and Bulls met again. During the game, Nash switched onto Jordan during a defensive possession — and it didn’t end well for the youngster.
Jordan — who had three inches and 11 NBA seasons on Nash — backed him down into the post, shimmied and hit a fadeaway.
There was a foul on the ensuing possession, which caused a stoppage in play. As Nash stood idly on the court, Jordan walked over to him.
“You were at a slight disadvantage,” Jordan said, jokingly.
Nash was stunned. But he didn’t let the moment pass him by.
“As a rookie, it was like that moment where I was like, ‘Holy sh–, MJ just scored on me,’” he said. “‘He’s letting me have it in a fun way. This is unbelievable.’ And all I could think of was, Chucky Brown got his shoes.
“So I turn, I laugh and I go, ‘Can I have your shoes after the game?’”
Jordan obliged. And though some veterans on the Suns were bothered by what Nash had done, he walked out of the arena that night proudly displaying his souvenir.
“When you idolize someone like that to the level that so many of us did with MJ, that superseded any sort of self awareness that maybe I shouldn’t be asking an opponent for his shoes,” Nash said. “It was just one of those moments that I look back on — like many — and think I was just young and dumb. But at the same time, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”