Today, ESPN.com columnist J.A. Adande authored the definitive guideline for all you Steve Nash apologists out there. The former L.A. Times writer should be ashamed of himself.
As a man who was born and raised in Los Angeles, Adande has witnessed greatness personified in Purple and Gold over the years. So why is he giving Nash a pass on holding the record for most playoff games played without logging a single minute in the NBA Finals?
Like most modern journalists, Adande has fallen prey to the myth of Nash.
Respect due, Nash is among the best point guards to enter the league in the last decade. His leadership, toughness and dedication are legendary and he’ll remain an icon in Phoenix for years to come.
But that’s about the extent of his legacy.
Make whatever excuses you want. His record speaks for itself.
Of the NBA’s top 10 all-time assist leaders; do you know how many of them never played in the Finals? Two, one being Nash the other being Rod Strickland.
Since 1980, there have been seven different instances of a player winning the MVP in successive seasons. Do you know how many of them have never played in the Finals? Just one person has accomplished this feat – guess who.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find any NBA MVP who has never once played in the Finals. Never mind actually winning a title.
Imagine what we’d be saying about Magic Johnson if he had a similar resume. Just think of what Michael Jordan’s legacy would be if he were a global icon without ever having dripped sweat on a hardwood floor donning an NBA Finals logo.
But with Nash, folks like Adande are willing to overlook this apparently inconsequential detail in his incomplete career.
Go ahead; remind me of how Nash took his team to the playoffs without Amar’e Stoudemire one year. Convenient that we omit what happened last season when the Suns missed the playoffs despite Nash teaming up with another former MVP – Shaquille O’Neal. I know, I know, Shaq was all washed up by the time he got to Phoenix. My memory is a little hazy but I don’t remember Shaq being any better in Miami yet Dwyane Wade somehow found a way to get a ring out of the situation.
Perhaps the greatest crime of all in Adande’s apologetic piece is the following excerpt.
He isn’t consumed by the quest for the championship ring, either. Could you imagine Nash, of all people, even wearing one of those gaudy things?
Needing a championship to finalize his career is, he says, “Not really in my thought process.”
Yeah, those “gaudy” rings aren’t worth their trouble I suppose.
Again, Nash’s game speaks for itself. He’s a dynamic passer, a true floor general with unlimited range, has every shot in the book and is money in the bank at the foul line. But all these qualities alone do not an all-time great make.
It takes something extra. Something we require of every other great player except Nash for some reason.
We’d never forgive Larry Bird for saying winning a title is “not in his thought process.”
Let’s just call the Steve Nash era what it truly is – convenient.
When the best players in the game weren’t marketable for various unsavory reasons (rape trial in Colorado anyone?) Nash was the safest bet for David Stern to put his chips on and for good reason. Nash is a high character guy who leaves nothing in the tank and entertains NBA fans worldwide.
But ticket sales and Habitat for Humanity appearances alone do not an all-time great make.
So, what is Nash’s true legacy?
Two MVP awards, 113 playoff games and counting, not one game played in the NBA Finals. Give Kobe Bryant the resume of Nash and tell me what his legacy would be.
But I guess winning titles isn’t a true measuring stick for greatness these days. Just ask LeBron James.