Self-admittedly once just a nobody, Steve Nash can revel in knowing that he’s retired one of the game’s best point guards.
After a 19-year career that was capped by two stellar MVP years, Nash has hung up his laces, his wizardry, his unmatched ability to make the players around him exponentially and infinitely better.
Like so many before him, his Phoenix-orange-hot career ended rather miserably because of a string of injuries. Since he joined the Kobe-Dwight-Howard-Nash Lakers superteam that wasn’t to be, he’s been cursed with health hangups that had creeped up on him during his career but that greatly diminished a guy who could do it all when it came to running an offense. Back, knee and hamstring issues made it so Nash played in 65 of 164 regular-season games the past two seasons with the disappointing Lakers. Nowhere near the storybook ending a player of his caliber deserved but through it all he remained a consummate professional.
In his farewell article published on The Players’ Tribune, Nash’s much-talked-about demeanor as a great person and teammate is on full display; Nash spends a good 3/4th’s of the piece thanking teammates, coaches, family, and foundation partners. His basketball career and accomplishments rarely discussed.
Though, surely, his friendly demeanor and world-calls teammate skills contributed to his winning ways, he was also immensely gifted. Perhaps, you can argue, the most capable floor manager the game has ever seen.
It’s all illustrated in his tallying up of 10,335 assists (good for third all time after Jason Kidd and John Stockton), making it to eight All-Star games, being voted onto the All-NBA First Team three times, joining the 50-40-90 club four times, nearly averaging a 50-40-90 for his career at 49.0-42.8-90.4, quarterbacking the No. 1 NBA offense for nine-straight seasons, ending with the league’s best career free-throw percentage of all time, willing his way into becoming one of the best international players to ever take the court, and nabbing the distinct honor of being the best Canadian player to ever suit up.
Hall of Fame, meet Steve Nash. Steve Nash, meet Hall of Fame.
Though suffering from highly suspect defense, and is one of four out-of-contention MVPs to never win a chip, Nash did things on the court that were disruptive in their magnificence. Only a point guard of his quality could have run a unit that hung its laurels on scoring the basket in seven seconds or less. That he did it in the body of guy who seemed to have no right cutting through, around, underneath, and between defenses commanded by seven-foot-tall men made him all the more enchanting. In many ways, Nash represented the underdog quality we’re all enamored with to its ultimate form: he was a white guy with a tennis build that was a tad geeky and who, by his own words, had to work his ass off to get where he got.
Many fans saw themselves in him. Beyond being a sorcerer with the ball, he was a champion for those who weren’t blessed with Shaq’s genes, LeBron’s physique, or even Dirk’s all-around skillset in the body of a viking. Outside of being the ultimate point, the ultimate nice guy, Nash was the ultimate underdog, and he will be missed because of it.