Byron Scott never got to coach Steve Nash. In his first year as Lakers head coach, Nash was ruled out from the start thanks to recurring back and leg injuries, and Saturday’s announcement that the future Hall of Famer was retiring just made it official.
Nash’s absence from the Lakers has drawn criticism from fans who are disappointed that his tenure in purple and gold didn’t go as planned, but Scott spoke highly of Nash after his announcement, saying his critics need to lay off of him.
From ESPN.com’s Baxter Holmes:
“He did everything possible to get on the court,” Scott said. “I think [critics] should really take that into consideration. It didn’t work out. But take a look at everything he’s done over the course of his career, and look at him that way — not at what ended up happening here.”
When Nash was declared out for the season, the Lakers gave him space, rather than asking him to be present at games or practices. But his absence still drew the ire of fans.
“I thought he needed time to kind of start really focusing on the next part of his life,” Scott said. “Sometimes guys can’t be around it. It’s that much harder for them. I don’t think anybody here in the organization faults him for not being around because like I said, I think we all understand — especially myself and [Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak], who are ex-basketball players who’ve been in this business for a long time — we all understand that sometimes guys need that peace away from the game to kind of get their head right and just kind of figure out what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives.”
Nash came to the Lakers in the summer of 2012, as part of a planned superteam that involved Dwight Howard. But Howard’s single season with the Lakers was a disaster, and Nash played in just 65 games over two seasons with the Lakers before being ruled out entirely for this year.
Nash’s tenure with the Lakers never worked out as planned, and to some, that’s always going to be a stain on his legacy. But Scott is right: the totality of his career is worth celebrating, and a set of unfortunate injuries in the twilight of his playing days should not overshadow that.