There’s nothing like a bout with the nastiest bout of the flu I’ve ever had to put perspective into things.
I’m not out of the woods yet, but I am drained. The life feels taken out of me, and I haven’t felt able or inspired to speak my thoughts as often.
This allowed me to slip into Steve Nash’s shoes, even just for a moment.
Steve Nash was traded for multiple 1st round picks, something that Laker fans still wish they had. The plan back then, was to have Nash and Dwight Howard wreak havoc with pick and roll situations. When things slowed down, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol could implement their two-man game and become absolutely unstoppable on offense. It was a great plan, and the franchise gambled everything to make it happen. When Mike Brown was still the head coach, the Princeton offensive system was in play, and to this day, I’m the only Laker fan around that wishes it was implemented. The problems weren’t offensive oriented. The problems were based on a lack of inspired defense. Two games into the regular season, off-hand, Dwight Howard was averaging 26 points per game on a 63% clip, 3.5 assists per game, on a greater than 1:1 assist to turnover ratio. Kobe Bryant was averaging 26 points per game on 61.8% shooting from the field, 44.4% behind the arc. Steve Nash was being minimized within the offense, and his numbers mirrored Steve Blake on an average year; 7 points and 5 assists per game. It didn’t matter, because the team field goal percentage was a staggering 49.7%.
Mike Brown was tossed for a novel idea, and in came Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni and Nash are of the same Borg hive-mind. They run the offense the same, the philosophy is the same, the shot selection is the same, and the decision-making is the same. What happened? Bryant and Gasol got lost in the offense. Dwight Howard didn’t want to be a pick and roll player. Steve Nash became more injury prone.
Now, the entire roster is injury plagued. The limited time that Nash spent on the floor, he ran with just one leg. It wasn’t an easy watch. We saw one of the best shooters in NBA history, continuously fall short on what he does best. It’s like Kareem’s skyhook not dropping. Michael Jordan missing dunks. Magic’s passing going through teammate’s hands. Chuck Hayes makes free throws. The universe isn’t right.
You can’t fault Steve Nash though. He doesn’t have the size of the average NBA player. Some fans may joke that he can’t defend a chair. He made MVP seasons out of his given abilities and that demands respect. He sacrificed his statistical career to be a Laker to win what he doesn’t have. That is a redeeming quality of a true Laker player. Rick Fox made the sacrifice. Metta World Peace made the sacrifice. Both were fortunate enough to win championships. He’s like Rudy Ruettiger of sorts, except, he wasn’t just in for a last play. He was the comeback kid without the athletic talent, and beat out the elite All-Star giants before him.
For that effort alone, he deserves to end his career the way he wants to. His back may have a slight tweak and he may need more rest, but I would do anything to see his last shots as a professional player end in makes of pure twine.
I can get over the flu. I can’t get over a player’s hard work thrown away so easily.