It was fifth grade. I was in the backseat of my Dad’s car on the way back from a recreational basketball game. As I stared out the window of the backseat I said to my Dad, “You know what NBA player I think I’m the most like? Steve Nash.” This was followed by the look I give someone when they tell me they don’t like Scrubs, you know the Good God, what could you possibly mean by that? look. “You know, because I like to push the ball,” I continued. “I know I’m not as good as him right now.”
Not the best facts to back my argument up, but that’s not the point. See when the news broke that Nash will sit out all of the 2014-15 season due to his lingering back injury and that his career may be over, well, a little part of fifth grade me died. I never got to watch Magic, Stockton or even Iverson in their primes. Steve Nash is the greatest point guard I and an entire generation has ever seen play, and if this is truly the end, he’ll be remembered for being more than just a point guard.
Throughout his career, Nash has been the purest of pure point men. He is a player who can run the offense, shoot the ball and lead his team like nobody else. He gives out high fives, a show of support, more frequently than tissues are given out at a showing of The Notebook for singles on Valentine’s Day. Nash is the leader we’d all love to have. Not only does he encourage you to keep shooting the ball, he assures you that you’ll knock down the next one, even after you’ve missed 10 shots in a row. He makes players around him better than they could ever hope to be, and it’s not just because of his 10,000-plus career assists, a category under which he ranks third all-time.
Watching Nash, you saw it all. His versatility, showcased by eight consecutive seasons with double digit points and assists. His efficiency, proved by his membership in the exclusive 50-40-90 club, a feat he accomplished four times throughout his career. His toughness, displayed when he played on through the bloodiest of noses, knocking down clutch shots in the playoffs against the Spurs. He didn’t back down to Robert Horry, whose hip-check of Nash into the scores table led to the suspensions of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, and may very well have cost Phoenix the 2007 playoff series.
Nash’s professionalism is captured by one stat: in 1,217 career games he has only one ejection (and only 48 technicals) throughout. To put that in perspective, DeMarcus Cousins has eight ejections and 59 technicals in just 291 career games. And let’s not forget that Nash still has as much flash, if not more, than any other superstar out there. From his behind-the-backs to his through-the-legs (not always his own), to his wrap-arounds, and his no-looks, Nash’s list of assists and finds have the ability to make us ooh and ahh for days.
Steve Nash doesn’t have a championship ring. In fact, he’s never even been to the Finals, and that’s unlikely to change. Steve Nash is not the best basketball player that has ever lived. But as the guy who is teary eyed as he writes this, a guy who was once just a starry-eyed kid who, like many, saw athletes not as basketball players, but as gods, I realize now I want to be more than just Steve Nash the player.
Our sports heroes have a tendency to let us down. Former players have beaten their wives and kids, shot themselves in the foot (literally) and committed a number of other indecent transgressions. Some of those players may have championship rings and MVPs, but at the end of the day, they let fans, myself included, down. So on behalf of myself and starry-eyed fans everywhere, thank you, Steve Nash. Thank you for never letting us down.
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