Kevin Nash’s First Love Is Basketball (then Wrestling)

Bill Behrens,0,3396445.story

March 1, 2009

Watch your back, Matty Guokas. And your skull, your arms, your legs, etc.

Kevin Nash, longtime wrestling star and Daytona Beach resident, can’t wrestle forever, loves the Orlando Magic and is highly skilled with a microphone.

"Nah, Matty has got it handled here in town," said Nash, discounting that idea. "But it is true that my first love was — and still is — basketball."

Nash, 49, is billed as the 7-foot, 320-pound co-leader of a group known as the Main Event Mafia on the TNA pro wrestling circuit. At the moment, however, he has to content himself with speaking roles while he recovers from a staph infection that left a hole in his elbow the size of a golf ball.

But that also gives him time to watch basketball at home. The NBA is his first love but, today, he’s paying attention to the collegiate semipros, namely Tennessee at Florida. That’s because Nash was the starting center for the Vols in 1980 before getting booted by Coach Don DeVoe.

"We were never huge fans," Nash said, "and at Kentucky he put his hands on me, so I shoved back. Later I found out his wife had a little fascination with me, so what are you gonna do?"

What Nash did was a couple of years in the Army, then European basketball until his knee went out. He turned to wrestling at age 29, a late start, but he’s had 20 years mostly as a mainliner in the major organizations.

"Not the easiest life on earth," he said, "but I pinch myself each day for having a good life — a jock’s life. When you’ve been on the pirate ship for 20 years, it’s hard to live with the normal people."

But it’s not hard to still love basketball — and staying close to home.

"I love the Magic. Dwight Howard is the most enjoyable big man in the game. And I was so disappointed when [Jameer] Nelson got hurt."

Oh, about today’s Vols-Gators game: "Tennessee is due to beat the Gators because they match up pretty well. But I don’t see anyone from the SEC making a run in the tournament. Someone from the Big East should win it all."

As for his day job, Nash is aiming at a mid-April PPV event for his full-fledged return. Think steel-cage match with Samoa Joe.

So breathe easy, Matty Guokas. The Jackknife Powerbomb and Chokeslam are targeted for someone else.

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