By Cassandra Szklarski
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO _ Retired NBA star Steve Nash is teaming up with the CBC to develop a one-hour drama set at an elite basketball academy.
The B.C.-bred athlete says the proposed series would revolve around the teens, parents, coaches and administrators at a Toronto-area school, and the unique trials young athletes face as they seek superstardom.
“It’s a really incredible backdrop to create characters and create storylines that are really relevant, authentic and I think exciting for audiences,” said Nash in a recent call from Los Angeles.
It’s tentatively titled “Hardwood,” with Nash working behind-the-scenes as an executive producer.
The former point guard said he doesn’t expect to appear on camera, but he saw lots of opportunity to invite NBA pals to make cameos.
“I think it’d be great _ we have so many Canadian NBA players now that it’d be a lot of fun to have them get involved, so that’ll be something that we definitely would be excited to do.”
Nash said the project is still in a very early stage of development with scripts currently being written.
“Hardwood” is being executive produced by Insight Production’s John Brunton and Barbara Bowlby, the Toronto-based team behind “The Amazing Race Canada” and “Big Brother Canada.”
Nash said he envisions stories could delve into the intense pressures young players face and the “shady” dealmaking that can emerge around them _ something he has firsthand knowledge of.
Since leaving the game earlier this year, Nash has indulged his passion for film and television through his company, Meathawk Productions. He said his interest began 20 years ago when he became “a bit of a cinephile.”
“And then initially I made a short for Nike and I was kind of hooked,” said Nash, who co-directed a documentary about Terry Fox for the ESPN series “30 for 30” in 2010.
“Eventually (I) made a bunch of digital content for brands, did a ’30 for 30′ for ESPN, another doc for ESPN, and actually also was involved in a couple of … web series, so it was a fairly natural progression from just becoming a fan of film and storytelling to becoming a participant.”
Nash said the basketball business has changed a lot since he was a teenager, noting that social media has made everything “so much more immediate and public.”
“They just put a clip on YouTube and text it back and forth to a coach or a recruiter, and the same goes for their behaviour _ they get caught out doing something, the whole world knows about it right away instead of it being just some little secret. It’s just a heightened environment and very difficult,” said Nash, whose 19-year career with the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers included eight all-star appearances, seven nominations to the all-NBA team and consecutive MVP awards. He’s now the general manager of Canada’s men’s national team.
Nash said he can understand the pressure young players face and hopes to bring some authenticity to “Hardwood.”
“As a young player you have high hopes and dreams, you have these goals that you’re striving for and then you have all these people around you with expectations, that want a piece of your time or your success and so to navigate that is something that we’re going to see a lot (in the show) _ how these kids navigate these two worlds of one, being a high-profile high school recruit and at the same time being a teenager,” said Nash.
“It becomes very tricky for these kids to land on their feet and to get through all this stuff unscathed.”