True North Strong & Free
Canadian hoop fans, specifically those who reside in the Lower Mainland, patiently waited and hoped for the day Steve Nash would spend a good chunk of the basketball season in Vancouver.
Unfortunately for Kid Canada and his followers, his stay in Vancity has been medically related, spending time with anyone from rehab specialists to personal trainers to witch doctors — all in the hopes of returning to the hardwood.
Little did anyone vision that when Nash signed with the Los Angeles Lakers a season ago that the majority of his time in Purple and Gold would be spent on the sidelines and in the training room. Oh the stories that could have been told about the perfect pick-and-pop with Gasol, the pick-and-lob with D12 or hitting Mamba on the break, all while leading L.A. to another banner or two to cap off a HOF career.
Although it has been a good decade since Nash laced up the kicks for a full season (only twice in his career, 01/02 – 02/03), he managed to fit through any stress and strain on his body to play about 75 games a season during his second stint in Phoenix.
Last year, Lakers fans saw only 50 appearances from the Canadian point god, as he missed 24 of the first 26 games and the final eight-plus a short lived playoff series. This season, we have been blessed with six.
In the morbid demise of my beloved Lakers, one has to wonder “WHAT IF” when it comes to the final days of Nash’s career. What if that night in Portland a season ago never happened? What if the pressure of returning to pilot a promising lineup wasn’t so strongly influenced by the media and fans?
What if he remained in Phoenix, the land of the best training staff this side of Mr. Miyagi?
Through 43 games this year, the six Nash sightings have produced his lowest numbers since his rookie season with averages of 6.7 points and 4.8 assists. With the Lakers all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, is there a need for Nash to come back at all this season?
There were plenty of rumors floating around that he was slatted to return on Tuesday night as the Lakers took on the Indiana Pacers, a team in a far better position to contend for a title than the Lakers are. Unfortunately a small “tweak” in his back led to Nash pulling out of Monday’s practice and resetting his return date for Friday.
Steve Nash won’t play Friday vs. Charlotte, but hopeful for upcoming trip http://t.co/lJQh45ApcH
— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) January 30, 2014
At 39 years old, the reality is, Nash will be hanging up the kicks when his current contract with the Lakers expires. As the oldest active player in the league, fans are torn whether they want to see Nash try to continue his comeback attempt or just walk away from the game with as much dignity as possible.
While nobody will confuse Kendall Marshall for the two time MVP, the former Tar Heel has done his best to fill the vacant lead guard position. Currently averaging 10 points and nine dimes, Marshall has done his best to give the Lakers what they hoped to have had with Nash, a ball distributing point guard who can utilize his big men, drive and kick for the three ball and start the transition.
It is hard to imagine that there is a basketball fan, coach or player out there that does not like Steve Nash (ok, maaaaybe Jason Richardson). You have no problem finding a Kobe hater, or someone who detests King James (Dan Gilbert?), but stories are endless of how well-liked Nash is around the league.
Memories of Nash leading the Canadian National team in the Olympics, teaming up with Dirk and Mike Finley in Dallas or running the “Seven Seconds or Less” offense in Phoenix are firmly ingrained in basketball minds.
Now, we have a whole bunch of unanswered questions as to the remainder of his career. When will he return? Will he be able to play significant minutes? Was choosing LA the best move for him?
Arguably Nash is one of the top 10 point guards in NBA history; however, at the moment he is known more for being on the sidelines in a suit, on the injured list or having a $9 million contract next season for a player who is a shell of his former self.
It’s ironic that the title of the highlight clip below is “Til I Collapse”, as sadly it appears that such might just be the case.