Hobbling Nash Won’t Give Up The Fight

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SAN ANTONIO — Steve Nash says he expects to feel and play as good as ever next season.

It’s this season that matters, as long as it lasts, and there are probably newly-hatched fruit flies with greater life expectancies than the Lakers. Of course, that was true from the moment that Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and went from unstoppable offensive force on the court to unfiltered tweeter from the sofa.

But it is especially true if Nash can’t be Nash.

In the series opener on Sunday afternoon, Nash couldn’t find his top gear and make those shifty drives to the basket. He couldn’t get into the paint and create as unpredictably and imaginatively as a basketball Jackson Pollock. He missed open jump shots and finished 6-for-15 with just three assists and two rebounds.

He tried to zig and couldn’t zag. Nash labored and struggled and fought and battled, but for most of the game appeared to be a guy who was 39 going on 69.

“But we need him out there,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni.

The Lakers season couldn’t have been more painful from start to finish if they’d shot themselves with a nail gun and the first hole came when Nash went down in the second game of the season with a broken leg. He didn’t play again until three days before Christmas, didn’t start to develop a real rhythm until around the All-Star break and then went back to the sidelines with a hamstring injury on March 30.

“Yeah, it’s been tough, health-wise,” Nash said. “I’ve never missed this much time by a longshot. Any time you change environments — and we had a lot of guys change environments — it takes time to come together. And with all the injury problems at that same time, we’ve had fought and fought and fought and not got a lot of joy out of the season. That’s why I’m still thrilled to get a chance to play in the series, still fight with my teammates and try to make something good out of all this.”

All this was scrapping down to the final night of the regular season just to get into the playoffs, and all this is now having an opportunity to let in the sunshine if they could pull off the upset and knock off the No. 2 seed Spurs.

To do that without Bryant and the 1-on-1 miracles he can perform will require the chorus to be in harmony. It’s one thing to say the Lakers can pound the ball into the post to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, but it will take all the sleight of hand of the former two-time MVP to get it there and make it happen.

It’s difficult enough against a San Antonio defense that reaches, digs and claws with active double-teams from so many different directions. When Nash can’t do all that he can do, it becomes almost impossible. After missing the final eight games of the season, Nash played just five days after receiving an epidural alleviate some of the pain from the hamstring and a day after he sprinted in practice for the first time in weeks.

“I’m not worried about being sore,” he said. “It is what it is. I’m gonna have to fight through some soreness and some pain and not gonna move as well I would like and try to do what I can to help. It’s what I can and can’t do on the floor that concerns me.”

Nash receives an assortment of medical treatments each day to prop himself up, and hits the court several times each day to keep himself warm and loose. You can see him trying out there, but you can also see him moving around the court like a crab at times. There aren’t many crabs that can stick a jumper, so his usually dependable shot didn’t fall.

“First and foremost, I’m not moving like normal,” Nash said. “Some of the shots I got, if I were moving well, were good looks for me. I’ll try to just make some shots for the team, create some offense, distribute, lead, defend my guy and try help the team.

“I might not be up to necessarily the standards I set for myself. But we need everybody we can with Kobe out and a lot of guys banged up.”

In his 17th NBA season with a litany of ailments, Nash says retirement never crossed his mind.

“Not even close,” he said. “When I was healthy this year, I felt really good. With the amount of opportunities I got on this team, I was still as efficient as I’ve always been.

“When you play with Kobe you’re not gonna get the same amount of opportunities and that’s the way it should be. He should have the ball a lot. Your role is gonna change. But as far as how I felt and my ability, once I got legs back under me after breaking my leg, I felt as good as ever and still optimistic I feel that way next year.”

The scars are evident on his face, the limp in his gait and the desperate hope in his voice as Nash tries to convince himself that he can and will drag his aching legs up and down the court, and will the ball into the basket, all the while keeping his belief.

“I love to play and I love this team,” he said. “I want to fight for these guys and be a part of this team having some happy times. We’ve had a lot of of down days and stuck with it and haven’t had a lot of success. Having said that, we played pretty well the last couple months. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, a lot of tough nights. I want to be part of turning that around and help these guys enjoy this.”

With rest and rehab and a chance to reset a tumultuous Lakers landscape, he knows it can all feel good next season. But it’s this one from which Nash still isn’t ready to let go.

29 Comments

  1. yeahbuddy says:

    SPURS STILL GONNA SWEEP THE LAKERS

  2. Andrew says:

    Steve Nash is a warrior like jordan. Hw will lift Lakers to the semi final of Western conference. The result will be 4-3 for Lakers. You can do it Nash. We believe in you. The most unselfish player in Nba and one of the greatest 50 player of all time.

  3. Vman says:

    This article doesn’t strike me as a LA Lakers article but a Steve Nash article. Those of you that say that the Lakers are done are disrespecting the player Steve Nash was (and still is). Hating the Lakers is something hard to any other teams need like 10-15 championships to even go near what the Lakers represent as an organization (exception if you are a fan of the celts). Steve Nash’s production has gone down since last year simply because he not the teams number 1 ballhandler(there is a guy called Kobehog on the team). In Steve’s words (if u actually read the article instead of hating the lakers) you’ll see that he’s trying to be the voice of hope and competition in the absence of EL BALLHOG wich is admirable. I don’t disrespect Kobe. but he is a ballhog.

  4. Crunch says:

    Lakers should trade Steve Blake or Darius Morris and get Goran Dragic. Then add one more good player on the bench, maybe chalmers, because the 7-8 guy routine isn’t just right. I mean seriously. -_-

  5. Kevin says:

    Definitely hard to get in rhythm after missing a lot of games this season. But Nash is a fighter! He’ll do whats best for the team! nothing but respect towards this man.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Steva Nash you can do this!!!!

  7. jake s says:

    Everyone wants to play forever. You might catch an older player saying, ” It’s not uncommon these days for a 40 year old to play in this league”. The fact of the matter is, that it is uncommon. No one wants to see greats like Duncan, Nash, or Billups leave the league. It just has to happen. They have accomplished so much. The game in recent years has been sped up. The NBA has turned into a young mans game. Just look at the two best teams in the league. In a few years, the heat will sign 3 or 4 rookies around Lebron. Wade will be traded and Bosh will be unheard of. Thunder will dominate for 3 or 4 years and then comes the next team. This will be the nature of the game to come. We can’t stop it. We can only embrace it.

  8. kraz says:

    haha raptors lol he is canadian but i think hes a backup point guard now. indiana pick n role with west hibbert or george, okc instead of fisher, or ynot miami then he definetly get ring and take a paycut, ring more important

  9. shaft says:

    lakers will win game 2. i have a feeling nash will play a huge part in it. nash still has it, playing with an injury is tough but this dude loves the game and is an amazing point guard and will come prepared. #futurehalloffame

  10. As two other commenters have said, Nash was injured during the second game of the season – not during training camp. He played the full first game and did not break his leg until early into the second game. The article’s references to him being injured during training camp and not playing his first game until just before Christmas are both incorrect. NBA.com needs to check their research …

  11. THE HARD FACTS says:

    If Phil was coaching the lakers wouldn’t have this problem

  12. wade's mother says:

    he would have been better off joining the raptors there. him and calderon would have been great together and maybe give the raptors that little boost they needed

  13. Marshall says:

    Nash played the season opener. You are incorrect about him playing first 3 days before Christmas.

  14. Kyle says:

    For the Lakers’ sake, Steve Nash needs to sit out the rest of the series. What’s the Lakers win percentage with him in this season? Like 20%?

  15. Liga says:

    Brilliant point guard maybe the best we’ll ever see in offensive creativity. A Larry Bird of point guards. Not great speed or size but gifted and focused.

  16. Give up already says:

    The Lakers are done. Just get this season over and done with and look forward to next season. Hopefully Dwight resigns and they fire the garbage coach.
    This has been a nightmare of a season for LA and it won’t change now especially without Kobe.

  17. cameron villeral says:

    I have nothing but respect for Steve Nash, but it may be time to hang the sneakers up. This goes out to all fellow Lakers fans.
    its time to rebuild. Lakers future in Question.

    • theholyspectator says:

      and with that, close this blog…next

    • Chris says:

      word. But they gave away draft picks didn’t they? Probably should try to snatch someone else’s pick using a trade or two. I still don’t want to see Nash retire without a ring though. I just don’t think he should be playing 30 min games. Get a good young point guard with potential that can learn from the vet

  18. Kobe 10 and 12 says:

    Nash, you stil have it. I’ve watched you play all these years. You’re the best point guard, determined, and what a great winning attitude you have. Spearhead that good team chemistry.

  19. Kal says:

    Nash is a great team player, one of the all time unselfish point guards not driven by stats, just winning, and he deserves a good ending… will he get it? odds are not and some historians might criticize harshly — “a two time MVP that was never a league leading scorer and couldn’t play much defence and never made it to the finals” will be something like the judgement — but he gave his all in Phoenix… even for a couple years after the dream was clearly over… it would be good to see him have one more strong run — whether that means just reaching the conference finals or going all the way to the finals — with a really good team… this year or next. here is to hoping.

  20. AW says:

    “The Lakers season couldn’t have been more painful from start to finish if they’d shot themselves with a nail gun and the first hole came when Nash went down in training camp with a broken leg. He didn’t play his first regular season game until three days before Christmas, didn’t start to develop a real rhythm until around the All-Star break and then went back to the sidelines with a hamstring injury on March 30.”

    This is incorrect. Nash played the entire first regular season game (without injury), and was injured in the second game. against the Portland Trailblazers.

      • HEAT says:

        Wow, I can’t believe stubborn Nash wouldn’t just sit so the Lakers can play better to win. Without him the pace will be a little quicker with Steve Blake and they were winning. With him, it gets too slow, doesn’t matter what play he tries to draw up, the opponents get enough time to read it. Sometimes when players get tired, if u move fast they don’t get a chance to read and they just react not the way they want. JUST SIT NASH!