Los Angeles Lakers: Appreciating Steve Nash’s tenure in Los Angeles

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

As Steve Nash gets hired as new head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, we remember his time with the Los Angeles Lakers with appreciation and disappointment.

It is hard to believe that not many years ago Steve Nash was a Los Angeles Lakers player.

A year after the Lakers saw the trade that would have net them Chris Paul be denied by the league, they rebuilt their championship odds adding All-Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash while managing to retain Pau Gasol.

The dream quickly turned into a nightmare as injuries, dysfunction and relationship issues derailed it in one of the most disappointing seasons in the history of the NBA. The purple and gold barely made the playoffs with the eighth seed and got easily swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

Nash was the starting point guard of a veteran All-Star lineup expected to dominate the league, but instead ended up playing together just a handful of games. It was not much better for the Canadian himself.

In just the second game of the regular season, a collision with Damian Lillard caused him to suffer a non-displaced fracture in his leg that forced him to miss 24 games. He returned and performed at a great level for the following 47 games, but then it became clear that that freaky injury had caused nerve issues that affected his whole body, already plagued by chronic back problems.

This turned the end of Nash’s career into a hell from which he did not manage to escape, eventually forced to retire.

The eight-time All-Star was obtained at the hefty cost of two first-round and two second-round draft picks, expected to bring perimeter production and team managing, taking some pressure off Kobe Bryant.

So much was expected from him that the front office also brought in Mike D’Antoni as head coach once Mike Brown was fired, hoping to recreate that environment that earned Nash back-to-back MVPs.

After another stop that 2013 season, he attempted a return in the playoffs, but was quickly turned off as things went south for the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the summer, the former MVP worked hard to rehab and recondition his body in response to the nerve damages and at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, he claimed to be healthy and ready to play.

With Kobe Bryant out with an Achilles injury, he would be in charge of the team and have much more the ball in his hands, asked to lead the team. But that was not the case. It was another season of continuous stops and attempted returns.

It was hard to see a great player and nice guy like Nash struggle so hard and eventually go down after having worked so hard to return to the floor and help the team remain relevant.

The following year, when, after numerous attempts, it was clear that his body would have never recovered to play at the highest level, he announced his retirement. Steve also rejected offers from other teams to return in a limited role, out of respect for the Lakers.

They had previously believed in him and given him all the time and every chance to recover and return to the game, instead of waiving him via the stretch provision. The Canadian point guard intended to repay that loyalty. A classy guy who understood and appreciated the way the team treated him and answered with the same appreciation.

Nash’s tenure with the Lakers finished with a total of 11.4 points per game and 6.4 assists. A tenure that began with hopes of greatness immortalized on the cover of Sports Illustrated, depicting him alongside teammate Dwight Howard, finished in the most disappointing way for the team and for Steve himself.

He, however, showed the ultimate respect, proving that the franchise had signed the wright player and it was just the circumstances that did not allow him to meet the expectations.

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Seven years later, Howard is in his second stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, while Nash has been appointed head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. A testament to the greatness and respect the two-time MVP still enjoys.