Father time is undefeated.
It’s a very simple reality that all good things must come to an end. For all his accomplishments and success, Steve Nash’s career as an NBA player is about to end. It’s inevitable. No sweet dreams. No fairy tale ending. Where does this place him among the all-time greats?
Steve Nash has always been one of the most underrated players in the history of the NBA. A football fanatic that was born in Africa and raised in Canada, Nash didn’t even start taking up basketball until the age of 12, where the likes of Magic Johnson and Pete Maravich highlights on TV challenged him to join the long list of great point guards to ever play. He had the footwork to cope with his lack of athleticism. He had the fundamentals to play team basketball. He had the heart to go out and play each game like his last. Nash had something, despite not having every thing
Doubt him, and he’ll make you pay.
Overlooked during his successful high school tenure, Nash signed with Santa Clara and carried them to the top of the West Coast Conference, while earning Conference Player of the Year awards during his time with the Broncos. In the NBA, Nash was welcomed with strong boos from the Phoenix crowd that have never heard of him. He played sparingly, behind Jason Kidd, Kevin Johnson, and Sam Cassell. He needed to look for a new angle, with his young career in jeopardy.
A blessing in disguise saw Steve moving to Dallas, with the keys to the Don-Nelson led offense. He was part of the most unorthodox dynamic duo with Dirk Nowitzki, slowly putting Dallas on contender status for many years. He was respected, and earned All-NBA Team honors. Alongside Antawn Jamison, Antoine Walker, Michael Finley, and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs were a’ Nashty’ team to face. The problem though was that these ‘Nashty’ teams can’t seem to get over the hump. ‘Nashty’ teams weren’t exactly winners. After the ’03-’04 season, Nash was a free agent. Cuban was paying a combined $50 mil salary to the aforementioned 4. Nash was asking for more.
3 years since their last Playoff appearance, the Suns were looking for a shake-up, a player that could carry them again. Enter Steve Nash. Amar’e Stoudemire found the perfect teammate to make “pick-and-roll” a very dangerous weapon on the court. Shawn Marion found the perfect partner that maximized his versatility as a player. And Mike D’Antoni found the perfect student to make “7 seconds or less” a thing of beauty. Showtime was back. The Suns were back. Nash was back on top. 2 MVPs were the cherry on top for him.
But still, no rings.
He moved on to his last team, the Los Angeles Lakers. With Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were the clear favorite out of the West. It was the perfect setting for Steve Nash, to end the championship drought. He only needs one, and his name will forever be remembered. Only winners are celebrated. He knows that. At the age of 38, he still has a lot of things to do.
The preseason was a horrible period for Steve and the Lakers. They failed to win any of their preseason games, and many had doubts about the health of Dwight Howard and the depth of the team. All eyes were on Dwight Howard’s back, Kobe’s relationship with him, and the replacement of Coach Mike Brown (who was fired 5 games into the season). They forgot to see what was happening to Steve Nash.
In just the 2nd game of the ’12-’13 season, the former 2-time MVP fell down after colliding with Damian Lillard. He was down for a few more seconds, and knew that something was wrong. It turned out that he suffered a “non-displaced fracture in his left leg.” He was out for a week. It turned out to be 7 weeks. When he returned, he struggled to play off the ball and was a huge liability on the defensive end. He argued with Dwight Howard more than Kobe Bryant. His best chance of winning a ring was turning out to be a nightmare of an experiment. To end the season, he suffered a right hip injury that also caused nerve damage in his right hamstring. Those injuries would continue to haunt him the following season, as his number of missed games continued to increase. He missed a total of 99 (out of 164) regular season matches as a Laker.
Fans were frustrated with their point guard who was stuck sitting on the bench rather than running the offense. The Lakers had the option of “stretch provision” – the ability to “stretch” his $ 9.7 mil contract over 3 years, making it $ 3.2 mil annually only – but opted not to use it as a sign of respect to a legend. In his last season as a Laker, and even as an NBA player, the team announced that Steve Nash was out for the whole year after aggravating a back injury while lifting his luggage. In the eyes of his fans, he gave up. But how could he not when his body has already shut down on him? He took to social media to announce his reasons; his side of the story (https://www.facebook.com/stevenash?fref=ts). Steve is now focusing on being healthy as a father more than a basketball player. He’s just waiting for the season of the Lakers to end as a sign of respect to a legendary organization.
But he knows his story is over.
No sweet dreams.
No fairy tale ending.
– David Gamboa
(image from: http://www.trbimg.com/img-54306225/turbine/la-sp-ln-lakers-steve-nash-injury-20141004)