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.