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.

Report: NBA ‘snitch’ hotline receiving multiple tips

NBA snitch hotline
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When the NBA created a hotline for players to anonymously report violations inside the bubble, numerous questions emerged. How often would it get used? What consequences would told-on players face? Would other players resent how often Chris Paul called?

Some answers are emerging.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kings center Richaun Holmes and Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo are each quarantined after breaking protocols. It’s unclear how their violations were detected.

Yes, there is a culture against snitching. That this report is snitching about snitching is truly something.

But there’s too much at stake – health of hundreds of people and a lot of money – to take these protocols lightly. Everyone at the NBA’s Disney World campus is entrusting their safety (and, for players, whose salaries are tied to revenue, livelihood) to those around them. It’s important everyone involved acts responsibly.

Kings forward Harrison Barnes tests positive for coronavirus

Kings forward Harrison Barnes
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The Kings have been hit especially hard by coronavirus.

Buddy Hield, Jabari Parker and Alex Len all tested positive. Richaun Holmes is quarantined after violating the NBA’s bubble protocols at Disney World.

And now Harrison Barnes reveals he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

Harrison Barnes:

Presumably, Barnes was among the 19 players the NBA announced tested positive for coronavirus in July in home markets.

“Primarily asymptomatic” is a strange assessment. Does Barnes mean he’s mildly symptomatic?

The Kings already faced an uphill climb for making the playoffs. At best, several of their players are falling behind in training. At worst, Sacramento will have its rotation depleted when games begin.

Hopefully, Barnes recovers and joins the team as he hopes. He has a personal stake in it. Even during the lengthy hiatus, Barnes stuck with his pledge not to shave or cut his hair until the Kings reach .500 (or, as he amended it, make the playoffs) or the season ends.

Report: Pacers star Victor Oladipo’s remaining salary in dispute

Pacers star Victor Oladipo
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Among the continuing 22 NBA teams, players not playing in the resumption at Disney World essentially fall into two categories:

Pacers star Victor Oladipo lands in the gray area.

Oladipo, who returned from a year-long absence shortly before the season got suspended in March, said he was sitting out due to elevated risk of injury during a quick buildup. But he also traveled with the team to Orlando and is even practicing so well, Indiana is reportedly becoming increasingly optimistic he’ll play.

Is Oladipo healthy enough to play?

At stake for Oladipo:

  • $2,763,158 if the Pacers get swept in the first round
  • $2,993,421 if they play exactly five playoff games
  • $3,223,684 if they play six or more playoff games

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

The union believes Oladipo, who went to Orlando with the Pacers and then cleared quarantine so he could practice, should be paid his remaining salary, sources said.

The league, largely in an effort to set a precedent in case other players who are deemed healthy want to leave Orlando and no longer play, believes Oladipo has opted out and should not be paid, sources said. His public comments about feeling healthy has only solidified the league’s position on the matter, sources said.

The Pacers support Oladipo’s decision and are willing to pay him the salary whether he plays or not, sources said.

Presumably, if Oladipo plays, he’ll get paid like anyone else playing in the resumption. This controversy lingers only if Oladipo doesn’t play.

It’s unsurprising the Pacers don’t want to pick this fight with their star player, especially as he approaches 2021 free agency. Trying to avoid alienating their own players but not necessarily eager to pay for services not rendered, teams collectively want the league to handle these issues.

If teams had ample discretion, the Wizards might have said Davis Bertans – who chose to sit out – had some lingering injury. NBA players are rarely perfectly healthy. There’s always some physical issue to point to. Bertans will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and they want to re-sign him. What an easy way to build goodwill – and maybe even get a discount on Bertans’ next contract.

Obviously, the league doesn’t want those type of shenanigans. That’s why on outside rulings on players’ health can be important.

Oladipo might not be the only borderline case:

Oladipo’s situation might take care of itself if he decides to play. But the league might inquire more deeply into other situations.

Report: Rockets star James Harden ‘feeling fine,’ might travel with Russell Westbrook

Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook
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When Russell Westbrook revealed he had coronavirus, speculation immediately turned to the Rockets’ other star who also didn’t travel with the team to Disney World.

James Harden is “feeling fine,” working out and might travel with Westbrook to Orlando, according to Shams Charania of Stadium:

Was Harden also diagnosed with coronavirus? Is he just waiting for his friend before entering the restrictive bubble? Is there another issue?

These questions beget even more questions.

If both players have coronavirus, they won’t necessarily recover on the same day. Would the first to get cleared wait for the other? Or is traveling together just an idea in case it works out?

If Harden is fully healthy and just waiting for Westbrook, how do their teammates inside the bubble feel about that? Those already at Disney World are spending more time away from friends and family in less-than-ideal conditions.

If there’s another issue… who knows?

The lack of transparency around the situation only invites rumors and guesses.

At least it’s good news that Harden feels fine.