Just a reminder, Steve Nash is the superstar everyone’s clamoring for, except for the defense thing

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We’re on a dicey ledge here, so hang on to the wall, won’t you?

Steve Nash is the superstar you want on your team. While everyone from LeBron James to Dwight Howard to Carmelo Anthony to Rip Hamilton have either left their teams or threatened to leave their teams, Nash is bypassing any and all option to escape Phoenix and their plummeting prospects of relevance. From ESPN:

Nash insisted again this week, as he lunched on five-bean soup and the healthiest of chopped salads at one of his go-to temples for food purity, that he won’t be lobbying Suns owner Robert Sarver and new team president Lon Babby to send him to a contender.

“Maybe I’m old school,” Nash said, “but I signed a contract to play here and I want to honor it. I feel like I owe it to my teammates and the city and everybody to keep battling until they tell me it’s time to go.”

via Weekend Dime: Suns set on keeping Nash – ESPN.

Nash goes on to say he’s committed to the franchise, committed to the fans. Pretty much everything you’d want to hear from your superstar instead of the endless refrain of “I want to win a championship” which is always bereft of actual responsibility for said title.

But then, isn’t this the kind of non-obsessive drive for glory that we so often harangue athletes for? Don’t we idolize Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Kevin Garnett because they’ll quite simply do anything to win? Don’t we revere Garnett for ditching Minnesota for a shot to win a title, and chalk up Kobe Bryant’s 2007 trade request to “just being Kobe?” So if we praise that kind of disregard for fan, franchise and contract, shouldn’t we abhor Nash’s settling for losing?

But then, as always, it comes back to LeBron. We don’t mind if you ditch your team, we mind how you ditch your team. Middle of the night in a trade request? Fine and dandy. National television? We mind a lot. And for Nash, who so many still hold some sort of ridiculous resentment over two MVP trophies that, regardless of whoever else’s accomplishments those years, he was more than worthy of, he’ll continue to be underrated, and be held out of reach of a title, the only thing that can truly validate a magnificent career.

In the end, though, Nash is fine with that. He doesn’t need our approval, our praise, our excuses. He’s able to look himself in the mirror and be proud of his career. And that’s worth enough in and of itself.

 

 

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.