On paper, it was a match made in heaven. Our beloved superstar Kobe Bryant would be suiting up next to arguably the greatest shooting point guard and one of the most creative passers in league history. Despite their age, it was supposed to be a brief revival of the Showtime Era.
Over a year and a half later and we couldn’t be farther from Showtime.
Steve Nash’s arrival in Los Angeles came out of left field, an attribute of Mitch Kupchak. His arrival brought in the most talented point guard Bryant ever would have the opportunity to team with on the Lakers. From day one, however, nothing went as planned. Nash injured his leg in the second game of the season, putting him out for just under two months. In the meantime, Mike Brown was fired, Phil Jackson was betrayed, and Mike D’Antoni was brought in to further revive Showtime
None of it worked.
Nash was a shell of his former self the whole season, averaging just 13.1 points and 6.8 assists from late December until March 30th, which was Nash’s final game of the regular season. Thanks to nerve damage, Nash sat the final eight regular season games before returning for the first two games against San Antonio. In total, Nash missed a total of 34 games, the highest in his career.
However, he spent the entire off-season rehabbing, recovering, and preparing himself for a season in which he’d be relied more heavily on. With Bryant out, most saw Nash and Gasol as the two most likely to carry the team.
Nash barely made it through six games before bowing out in this season with nerve irritation, this stimulating from last year’s injuries. What was originally diagnosed as a two-week injury has progressed to just under three months of Nash being out of commission. Tonight marks his return, albeit it in an abbreviated role, to the starting lineup.
For Nash, it’s do or die. From a personal standpoint, Nash has stated that he doesn’t want to retire, but he has to listen to his body. In his short time in LA, Nash’s body is screaming for him to retire. At this point, another injury or setback could put his career into serious jeopardy. If he can’t handle the rigors of an 82-game schedule, even on a minutes restriction, then the writing is on the wall.
For the Lakers, it’s hard to believe they’ll waste a roster spot on a player who’s played less than one season of games in his almost two years on the squad. No one could have predicted how useless Nash has been on the Lakers. But so has been the case, and with a summer to wipe the slate clean, Mitch Kupchak and the front office have to be at least considering the idea of waiving Nash if he can’t prove his worth.
Which means a lot is one the line tonight in Minnesota and in the near future. Never would anyone have thought that, at this point in his career, Nash would have to prove anything. But no one would have expected his irrelevance in purple and gold, either. He has 35 games left to show his worth to LA, to himself, to his body, and to the Lakers.
It’s do or die.