Steve Nash reflects on career: “My story is something that kids can learn from”

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Steve Nash stood in front of media members Tuesday, talked about his decision to retire, and looked back on a career that has him destined for the Hall of Fame.

One that from the start was maybe the most improbable of the MVP, Hall-of-Fame, franchise cornerstone careers in all of the NBA. Nash sees that as an inspiration, as reported by David Leon Moore of the USA Today.

“That’s what makes my story interesting,” Nash said. “I had one scholarship offer. I was never a sure thing. I had to overcome a lot to get to the level I got to. There were a lot of ingredients, but the key ingredient was hard work. My story is something that kids can learn from and relate to. It feels good to be able leave that behind as my story.”

Nash spoke of his story in the way a guy looking to get into film should speak of narrative, with reverence. Nash’s story is that of a guy born in South Africa, raised in Canada, and who on the surface lacks the physical tools it would take to be an NBA superstar. He’s not tall or long, nor can he leap out of the building.

But Nash worked as long and hard on his game and his body as anyone in the league (something seemingly lost on a few Lakers fans in recent years). He genuinely loved the game. With Don Nelson and the Mavericks, we saw one of the best offenses ever when Nash was paired with Dirk Nowitzki.

Then with Mike D’Antoni and Amar’e Stoudemire in Phoenix, they revolutionized the game. Their tempo, their free-flowing offense heavy on pick-and-rolls with shooters spacing the floor has been copied by every smart coach, smart team in the NBA for the last decade. The last three titles — two in Miami, one in San Antonio — went to coaches who admitted borrowing from those Suns teams.

Nash said the words that have flowed in from peers since his announcement have meant a lot.

Of course, Nash has had to come to terms with never having won a ring.

“For sure, there’s a lot of disappointment not to win a championship,” Nash said. “At the same time, I definitely left it all out there. There have been a number of players with tremendous careers who haven’t won titles. They probably feel similar. They wish they could have taken a title, but that final step wasn’t to be. I played on some great teams and had a lot of success. I just wasn’t able to get over the hump a few times.”

Nash battled back issues through the second half of his career, and nobody worked harder than him to stay on the court. That included his last three years in Los Angeles, but the nerve issue from a broken leg never could get right and kept him off the court for the Lakers for most of that time.

Some Lakers fans ripped him for that, although not the thinking ones. And not the ones he spoke to.

“There’s a lot of negativity on line, but I’ve never had anybody in L.A. say a negative thing to me in person,” he said. “A Lot of people here have shown a lot of class and been incredibly gracious, and that starts with the Lakers organization. I was treated incredibly in my time here, and I will be forever grateful for that. Sometimes the Internet becomes our reality until you realize that that’s not at all how it is in flesh and blood.”

Nash was nothing but classy as a Laker, as he was throughout his career. If there were a Hall of Fame for the good guys in sport, he’d be a shoe-in.

As it is, he’s a shoe-in for the other Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

And he will go down as one of the great, unlikely superstars in NBA history.

Sixers rout Cavaliers 114-95 behind 12-of-14 shooting night from Tobias Harris

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Tobias Harris scored 27 points, Joel Embiid had 14 and the Philadelphia 76ers routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-95 on Sunday.

Cleveland nearly pulled off an upset in Philadelphia on Tuesday before falling 98-97, but the 76ers ended quickly ended any hope of a repeat.

Philadelphia went ahead midway through the first quarter and steadily built the lead, shooting 67% in the half. The lead reached 75-44 early in the third quarter.

Harris was 12 of 14 from the field, missing only one of 12 2-point attempts. Ben Simmons had 10 points and 11 assists, and the 76ers had six players score in double figures.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love took a hard fall after being flattened by Furkan Korkmaz while shooting in the lane in the first quarter. Love got up after being on the floor for a couple of moments and gave the thumbs-up sign to the crowd, remaining in the game.

Love scored 12 points in 25 minutes. Collin Sexton had 17 points for Cleveland, which has lost three straight and opened a stretch of five games in seven days.

The Cavaliers were ahead of the 76ers by five points late in Tuesday’s game, but couldn’t hold the lead. Love missed an open 3-pointer on the final possession.

Philadelphia shredded Cleveland’s defense this time with 33 assists on 46 baskets. The 76ers followed an 11-0 run with a 14-3 spurt to take a 60-31 lead on Harris’ dunk with four minutes to play in the second quarter.

Philadelphia had dropped five of seven going into the game, including consecutive losses in Orlando and Oklahoma City, but finished its road trip on a high note.

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winner sits on rim, rolls off, gives Kings win

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Boston came in on a 10-game winning streak where they had played well on both ends of the court, but they also got some lucky rolls of the basketball.

Not Sunday.

With Boston down one, Marcus Smart put up a floater as time expired in Sacramento, it looked like the shot would fall, and…

Give the Kings credit, at a rough start they have gone 5-2 in November, and that despite injuries to Marvin Bagley Jr. and De'Aaron Fox. Buddy Hield had 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three.

The Celtics had a balanced attack with six players in double figures, but their offense was not as sharp as it has been. This was the first game it looked like they missed Gordon Hayward, who is out with a fractured hand.

Report: Last summer the Lakers, among others, were hoping Suns would buy out Aron Baynes

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Aron Baynes has been critical to the Suns racing out to a 7-4 start with the fourth-best net rating in the NBA. When Deandre Ayton was suspended for 25 games (after testing positive for a diuretic, a banned substance), Baynes has stepped up and been exactly what the Suns needed. He is scoring 15 points per game, shooting 46.5 percent from three (which is opening up the floor for guys like Devin Booker), and providing a big body defensive presence in the paint.

You can see why the Lakers and other teams were hoping Baynes would hit the market this summer. From Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Suns center Aron Baynes has emerged as a cornerstone piece for Phoenix early this season, supplying defense, leadership and, yes, shot-making. Phoenix acquired Baynes on draft night, and in the weeks to come contenders such as the Lakers hoped Baynes would reach a buyout with the Suns to hit the open market, sources said. Suns general manager James Jones and new head coach Monty Williams wanted Baynes — and are now receiving the rewards for the offseason move. Through 11 games, Baynes is averaging 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 46.8 percent 3-point shooting (two 3s made per game). Baynes will enter free agency next July, and as one team executive said, “He is positioning himself for well over $10 million per year.”

Smart move by Phoenix’s management to hold on to Baynes as an Ayton insurance policy (one they ended up needing). Plus, when trying to change a team’s culture (as Jones and Williams are working to do in Phoenix), you can’t have enough hardworking professionals in the locker room. Baynes brings that.

The Lakers thought they would have DeMarcus Cousins in the paint, but he tore his ACL over the summer. The tag team of Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee has worked surprisingly well for Los Angeles to start the season.

In what will be a down free-agent market next summer, Baynes is going to be in demand. His payday is coming.

Dion Waiters on suspension: ‘It’s a minor setback. It happens. It’s life.’

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Dion Waiters has yet to set foot on the court for the Miami Heat this season and is currently sitting out a 10-game suspension by the team for “conduct detrimental to the team.” He is not suspended for the gummy bears incident, but rather a series of team infractions (remember he was suspended for opening night, too, after a run-in with coach Erik Spoelstra). However, the fact this suspension came after that well-publicized disruption to the Heat is not a coincidence.

With his time off, Waiters went back to Syracuse, where he played in college, to talk to his old coach Jim Boeheim, someone Waiters sees as a father figure.

While there, Waiters talked about his suspension publicly for the first time,  speaking with Donna Ditota of Syracuse.com.

“I just wanted to come up and talk to Coach,” Waiters said. “I know that’s a person who will always be there for me if I ever need anything. It’s a chance for me to come up, be around, talk to the coaches, things like that. And that’s important….

“I’m not going to lie to you, I’m in a great place,” he said. “I can only control what I can control at the end of the day, so some things you just can’t allow to take your head the other way, some things happen for a reason. If you stay locked in, if you believe and trust in yourself, trust in the work you put in, you know, it’s a minor setback. It happens. It’s life. You learn from it. The only thing I can do is move forward. Stay focused. Stay even-keeled. Let everything else take care of itself.”

Some will want to read that as Waiters being dismissive, but in reality this is the attitude Miami wants Waiters to have — that he can move on, get past whatever issues are going on between him and the team, and come back to bolster the Miami rotation.

That said, thanks to the impressive play from rookies Kendrick Nunna Heat-style player right out of central casting — and Tyler Herro, Miami hasn’t been hurting for quality guard play. Waiters, when he returns, is going to have to earn his spot in the rotation.