By Sekou Smith, NBA.com
VIDEO: Steve Nash on his career and overcoming injuries
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You hate to see anyone who loves his job as much as Steve Nash does dealt the blows he has been in the twilight of his career.
But Father Time spares no one, not even a player as beloved by his teammates, coaches and fans as Nash. The two-time MVP point guard is facing what could be the final crossroads of his storied career. His 2013-14 season is over, and really never got started thanks to an assortment of injuries, aches and pains that simply did not allow him to perform up to his lofty career standards.
But just to be sure, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni closed that door this afternoon …
Mike D'Antoni officially closes the door on Steve Nash returning this season for the Lakers. "He's not going to play."—
Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) March 13, 2014
The news comes just hours after Kobe Bryant‘s season was officially sacked, the casualty of a knee fracture and recovery from a torn Achilles tendon that cost him all but six games. All this happens in Lakerland as legendary Lakers and Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson decides to take his talents to New York and run the Knicks.
Nash’s season included appearances in just 10 games. He just couldn’t overcome the avalanche of injuries that have plagued him throughout his two-season run with the Lakers. He’s already said that if the Lakers use the stretch provision (the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement gives the Lakers the option of waiving Nash and spreading the cap hold of $9.7 million salary over three seasons) and release him this summer that he’s all but calling it a career.
“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 was a part of the core group the Lakers assembled before the start of the 2012-13 season — Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Bryant were the others — that was supposed to return the franchise to its previous championship glory.
It never happened. Nash suffered an early injury, never regained his form and wound up playing in just 50 games. Howard struggled with his recovery from back surgery and the adjustment from Orlando to Los Angeles and ultimately bolted for Houston in free agency last summer. Gasol struggled with injuries and his new role as a set piece on the periphery for Howard and Bryant and will be a free agent this summer. Kobe suffered that Achilles injury late in the season, as he was grinding away to make sure the Lakers made the playoffs, and ended up missing the postseason altogether.
Kobe and Nash were expected to lead the Lakers this season, but again, injuries derailed those plans.
The accumulation of that wear and tear on Nash’s body and mind could very well lead to the future Hall of Famer (I don’t think there is any doubt he’s headed there eventually) to indeed call it a career.
No one can blame Nash, 40, for hanging it up at this point. When it takes this much painstaking work just to get fit enough to take the floor, any player in his right mind would consider closing the door on that part of his career and moving on.
Nash has other endeavors that will surely keep him plugged into the game, including his post as head of the Canadian national program.
His playing days, however, could very well be over.
VIDEO: Steve Nash talks about the stretch provision in The End Of The Line: Episode 2 on Grantland