Nash making his case for next year

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com


VIDEO: Steve Nash talks about his love and desire for the game

Why does the basketball equivalent of an octogenarian drag a beat up, worn down body out onto the court at the tail end of a lost season?

If you’re Steve Nash, the reason is the same as the one that kept Kobe Bryant hoping and holding the door open for so long until Lakers team doctors finally slammed it shut.

It’s what you do.

When you’re one of those ancient warriors who’s been playing for so long, it’s never just about the record or the place in the standings. It’s about testing yourself, pushing at the limits and pushing back at the critics who say it’s impossible or insane. It’s always about competing in the next game.

However, in the case of Nash, this would also seem to be about next year. Over these final weeks, he’s got to make a statement with his ability to perform and a case to bring him back.

The 40-year-old recently vowed to retire from the game if the Lakers’ offseason rebuilding plan takes them in a different direction.

“If the Lakers release me this summer this is it,” Nash said during Episode 2 of the Finish Line, the documentary he’s doing with Grantland.com that chronicles his final season(s) in the league. “You know, I finally got my kids here in L.A., I’m not going to move them again, and I’m not going to be without them for another year. So, it’s either back with the Lakers next year or I’m done.”

Nash has been plagued by nerve damage in his back and hamstring injuries, averaging 7.6 points, 4.7 assists and a near career low of 22.5 minutes in just 10 games. He has not played since limping off the court before halftime on Feb. 11 against the Jazz.

After playing in just 50 games last season due to another spate of injuries in his first season with the Lakers, it would seem that Nash’s body is telling him that it’s time to call it a career after 18 seasons that produced two MVP awards and probably exceeded the expectations of everyone who saw him come out of Santa Clara way back in 1996.

Yet that’s the thing about the great ones, the players who reach that elite level. It’s not so much that they won’t ever let go as it is them being the deciders of the time and the place.

You know that’s the driving force behind Kobe’s determined bid for an unprecedented comeback, much mores than the $48.5 million on the new contract. After all the accolades and all that he’s accomplished, he doesn’t want the lasting image to be that hobbling off the floor a year ago when the Achilles tendon tore or the six ineffective games he played this season.

They may look vastly different and play two entirely different kinds of basketball, but Nash has that ingredient in his DNA makeup. He want to walk out, not limp out. He wants to retire, not have the Lakers cut him to save salary cap space over the summer.

That’s why he’ll be back on the floor tonight at the end of a long lost season. It’s about next year.

12 Comments

  1. sauce boss says:

    Hes on the mount rushmore of nba point guards . magic , Stockton , Oscar Robertson , mr. nash . Show captain Canada some love.

  2. cw says:

    SAD
    Sad franchise
    Sad ownership
    Sad end to Nash’s career (go out with dignity, please)

  3. okc2014 says:

    Maybe he has child support arrears and needs to pay in full. Is he broke or something? What’s his deal?

  4. Anthony says:

    Basketball is a fun game to play. Maybe you just try to do it as long as you can.

  5. jey says:

    I’m a die heart Lakers fan & i respect Nash for pushing his career and body to the max in his quest for a championship.

  6. BB Fan says:

    Well said, Mister Underhill! It’s been a pleasure to have watched Steve Nash play for all these years, not only for the plays that he’s made on court but also for the incredible work that he’s put into his skills and his fitness. The ability to apply that level of dedication is a talent in itself, as Ivan Lendl once said when people suggested that he wasn’t as talented as John McEnroe. I’ll be watching the rest of Nash’s journey, for the basketball and for the attempt at being the best he can be.

  7. Jay says:

    Why would he comeback, the season is almost over and they have a lottery pick.

    I really hope they don’t go after Melo when they can draft Wiggins or Parker and pick up a FA PG like Bledsoe

  8. Mister Underhill says:

    It’s not surprising to see the short-sightedness of Nash-bashers given their short-sightedness: they do not know the game well enough and certainly don’t respect the respect Steve Nash has earned because of his respect of the GAME. Not the season, not a ring, not the stat or the shoe-deal or the fame or the swagger — but the game. That’s why he was MVP two years in a row. Other players saw his ultimate drive to play the game to its ultimate all-out physical level — that honor was respect for the game and the love of playing the game. It wasn’t for winning a championship or scoring the most points, it was for playing up to the best of what the sport could pull out of an athlete. It was for respect of athleticism and team-spirit and elevating other players up to the levels beyond self — up to cohesion and unity and simple brilliance of playing well. That is why John Stockton is one of Nash’s heroes, and if Nash is selfish in any way, it’s his desire to play until he’s 41 — the age at which a fully-capable starter Stockton retired. When Stockton retired, Charles Barkley couldn’t make fun of him on the TNT “gone fishing” segment, couldn’t do it even though Stockton had kept Barkley from reaching the finals, couldn’t do it because he respected the fact the Stockton had ultimate respect for the GAME. John Wooden, the great UCLA coach, would rarely go to games once retired, but would not miss a chance to see Stockton play. Yes, just to see someone handling the ball with respect and love for the game. That is why it’s impressive and a credit to Laker management that they are letting Nash determine his future. To know that there is still respect for the game on the other side of the pay check means there is still a higher dimension to pro sports than the win-loss column. The Nash bashers are kind of like the reporter who dogged Roy Hobbs in The Natural, who was trying to tag him, who claimed it was his job to “Protect the game.” “Whose game?” says Hobbs and then asks, “Did you ever play ball Max?” “No, never have,” answers the commentator. The question wasn’t about loving the game, everybody loves the game, it was about playing ball. Love of being the best, of having the ball itself tell you what to do to be the best. The best there ever was. That’s what it’s about. That’s where respect is. That’s what Steve Nash is about. Respect for playing ball, let the games fall where they will.

  9. Unkle Daddy says:

    The thought of Steve Nash, a player who I’ve always respected retiring a Laker really upsets me. He should be retiring a Maverick or a Sun. I hope somehow he can end up playing his last season in Dallas.

  10. TakeAlapBLINEBURY says:

    Terrible article!!!
    This is some kind of a joke. In case you haven’t been paying attention

    A. Lakers already said publicly many times in recent weeks they are not letting him go so this idea of Nash “auditioning” is complete B.S.

    B. Nash is only playing because of all the scrutiny he has probably received since he made the comments he was only staying with the lakers for the money. (Exactly what laker fans want to hear…)

    C. Why would they lakers risk injuring him more after he can do no good for himself OR the lakers because they want to keep losing to be in the best position for the lottery.

    I’d love to hear someone make the argument “it’s his love for the game”. The nba is not about players having fun playing, it’s about winning and if your not going to help win, the doors over there…

    • ThisGuysGotApoint says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself ^^^
      Nash needs to throw in the towel before he throws out another back

      See what I did there^

      • Milen says:

        Up until last night, I was ready to agree with you 100%…. and then I saw him play again….he may be old, worn down and ever-injured, but the man clearly wants to just play…. I saw it in the way he was moving, in the eagerness to make the best out of every second he had the ball, every possession. Yes, he is a has-been, and yes, LAL gave him too much money and a too long contract, but it is not his fault…. just like it is not Kobe`s fault that they dumped $48M in his pocket thus killing their chances of getting other players of value this off-season. I am a die-hard LAL fan and think Nash should retire and if it had been in Phoenix, he might have chosen to retire out of respect for the team he has achieved quite a bit with, in order to let them rebuild and move forward. But in the case with LA, I understand him – Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak were dumb enough to pay him all that money and sign him for three years without any chances for them to opt out of the contract, LAL are not going anywhere anyway, management is clueless and has no sense of direction whatsoever, so he can limp on and off the floor all he wants…. I read the transcript of Jeanie Buss`s interview about the future of the franchise, the rebuilding process, the new NBA reality and so forth. I can tell you, based on what she is saying (or not saying), she either has no clue how to get out of this huge hole they are in, or they have something really big up their sleeve and are keeping it hush-hush until it is time for the big splash…. but looking at the pace at which the situation has been deteriorating since late Dr. Buss (God bless his soul, he was such a genius) had to step down, I would rather say she does not know the way out of this mess either. So RIP Lakers and let`s hope when they go broke and have to sell the franchise, it will be taken over by someone who knows what he/she is doing….