I still support Steve Nash.
There, I said it. In most circles, advocacy towards the oldest player on the Lakers (and the league) is met with more backlash than there was when the Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak was broken last night.
The front office should just use the stretch provision on him, some say. He should just retire, even more will say.
But look at how hard he has worked just to have a chance to come off the bench for Kendall Marshall on a team that has nothing to play for but pride, nevertheless.
He doesn’t have to do all this. His legacy is beyond cemented.
There are countless examples of athletes who have suffered injuries that are less severe, who have worked less hard to come back than Nash has. See: Bynum, Andrew.
More importantly, in the times that he has played, as scarce as they have been, he has shown he still possesses the most important skill a point guard can possess: give the other four players on the court the ball where they can be effective.
Judging from the times he has laced them up, if there’s any way for the former two-time MVP to put the nerve issues behind him, he could still perform as a serviceable backup point guard for this team next year, albeit an expensive one.
On his 40th birthday in Philly, he posted 19 points and five assists in merely 28 minutes.
A week ago at home versus the Blazers, he recorded a double-double (10 points and 10 assists) in even less floor time (22 minutes). This was overshadowed by the fact that Nick Young exploded for 40 points that night.
It’s not like Nash hasn’t been ready to play either, because he has been, at least sometimes. Much of it has to do with Coach D’Antoni being instructed to give the young guys more playing time to see who is worthy of keeping beyond this disastrous season. In effect, since Kobe went down for the second time, the rest of the season has played out as an extended tryout for everyone on the roster besides Marshon Brooks and Chris Kaman.
Plus, watching Steve Nash find the narrowest of crevices to sneak in a bounce pass is much more of a masterpiece than Kobe’s latest slogan for his signature shoe.
By now I imagine you’ve seen or at least heard about the Finish Line: Nash’s self-produced series that documents the final stage of his career.
The most publicized part of the series has been his confession on refusing to retire because he wants to earn the $9.7 million he’s due next year. But what struck me was his soliloquy on his fear of life post-basketball as his sense of purpose has derived from his ability to perform on the court for the better part of 25 years, tracing back to his youth.
The Victoria, B.C. native loves the sensation of playing basketball at an elite level more than most of us love doing anything.
Many of us say we love something, but when time comes to exert the necessary work needed to perfect the craft, we’d rather grab a beer with a couple mates or binge-watch House of Cards to keep up with our social circles.
When Nash says he loves basketball, he lives it. He watches his diet meticulously, he has needles placed in his back to alleviate the nerve irritation, and does everything he can possible just to be able to earn that last bit of his contract.
So, here we are, with five games left in the season, the legendary Steve Nash needs just five more assists to become third all-time in that category.
He thought he was done for the season after Friday night’s 19-minute cameo against the team that drafted him. However, with Kent Bazemore’s season-ending foot injury, the door of opportunity opens for Nash once more to cap off this season, and maybe his career, on his own terms—with his dignity intact.
I heard once that certain things are more beautiful when you know exactly when they are going to end. That certainly applies to Steve Nash, his artistic passing and his war of attrition with his health.
Steve Nash Has A “Blast,” Despite Rolling Ankle