As our February cover story ("Transition Game") illustrates, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash is quite the creative talent off the court as well as on. Since starting a production company a couple of years ago, he's made viral Web shorts for brands like Nike and Vitaminwater and behind-the-scenes clips co-starring his Phoenix Suns.
You'll have to wait until later this year to see his big break, an hour-long documentary for ESPN on Canadian runner Terry Fox. In the meantime, here are some entertaining clips showing Nash the filmmaker in action. (At the end, don’t miss the chance to vote for your favorite):
Video 1: Training Day
Realizing that he wouldn't get a blow-it-out shoe campaign like Kobe and LeBron, Nash approached Nike with a low-budget idea in 2007: a Web video highlighting his unconventional, multi-sport off-season workouts in New York. (The Suns must cringe when they see him skateboarding his way around the city). Nash, who had largely avoided the sports branding machinery over the years, wrote the script.
Video 2: The Sixty Million Dollar Man
After the success of Training Day (300,000+ YouTube views so far), Nash pitched Nike on a Six-Million-Dollar Man spoof. (Technically, his Suns' contract made him a $66 million man at the time). He took even more control. He wrote it, brought in his cousin, Ezra Holland, a London filmmaker, and split the production costs with Nike.
Video 1: Summer Training
The videos, says Nash, "started purely as a creative outlet. Then we worked backwards to come up with a business model." He and Holland formed a production company, Meathawk, which began producing spots for Vitaminwater after he signed an endorsement deal with the company. This one is practically a satire of his earlier "Training Day" spot.
Video 2: HQ
"The creative director title goes to Steve, not us," Rohan Oza, Vitaminwater's CMO, says of these videos. It isn't just that the ads are clever and irreverent, which matches the brand's sensibility. As Nash roams Vitaminwater headquarters here, he highlights the products' attributes while lampooning the typical athlete/pitchman. The company was so pleased that it aired the spot on TV during March Madness last year.
Video 3: Fashionista
If viewers don't get Nash's sarcasm in "HQ," they can't miss it here. He's over the top in mocking the self-importance of fawned-over athletes and celebrities. "Ezra and I have these stupid conversations about stuff all the time and decide to make something from it," Nash says. "That's our creative process--our normal banter."
Nash's Range--From Slapstick to Action Hero
Video 1: Step Brothers
With more than 670,000 views on YouTube, this is Nash's biggest viral hit so far. He and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Baron Davis spoof the Will Ferrell movie and show the goofy flipside of their intense on-court personalities. Nash's moonwalk is a must. "We said, 'Let's go to the beach and make fun of ourselves' and it just evolved," Nash says. "I didn't know we were doing the dance thing until 40 seconds before. Baron egged me into it."
Video 2: The Player
Nash, whose father played professional soccer in South Africa, initially wanted to be a soccer player when he grew up, but he blossomed into a high school hoops star. In this video for a new nonprofit he co-founded, Football for Good, he travels the globe as a soccer prankster on an impossible mission, schooling stars such as Alessandro Del Piero.
Video 3: On a Mission
Meathawk made this ad for Mission Skincare (formerly Mission Product), whose athletes-owners--including Nash, snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, soccer star Mia Hamm, and skateboarder Ryan Sheckler--help develop skin-care products through field-testing. Don't miss Sheckler's leap over Nash at the end. Another cringe moment for the Suns.
Nash the Director
Video 1: All Night Long
On-the-bus silliness with his Suns teammates. This one stars one of his best buds on the team, Leondro Barbosa, channeling Lionel Richie.
Video 2: Avatar
As this Avatar-inspired clip illustrates, Nash is the NBA's James Cameron. It features another star turn by Suns sixth-man Barbosa.
[Photo by Patrik Giardino]