Steve Nash was playing in just his third game since returning from injury on Sunday, before leaving in the third quarter against the Bulls with what was described as nerve irritation.
Nash suffered a leg fracture and subsequent nerve damage that had sidelined him for all but six games before his recent return, and being forced out of action due to some similar symptoms had many worried that another serious setback would cause even more missed time this season.
But the initial diagnosis is a positive one, and the team hopes that Nash will return in time for the Lakers’ next game on Tuesday.
“I think he’ll be OK on Tuesday,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We’ll see. Just a freak bump of knees and his back started tightening up a little bit.”
Postgame, Nash explained he made contact with Kirk Hinrich in the same spot the nerve root issue had bothered him before.
“That nerve flared up and I started to compensate,” Nash said. “I wasn’t going to be very effective and I wasn’t going to risk going back on all that work I’ve done to get back on the court.”
The reality is that even Nash doesn’t know how much he has left to give at this point, or when the injuries he’s worked so hard to get past will return to limit him once again. This latest setback appears to be a minor one, but there’s a lingering uneasy sense that Nash’s career, whenever it’s over, won’t end on his terms.