In an article published on ThePlayersTribune.com yesterday, Steve Nash announced his retirement from basketball. He called it quits after an illustrious 19 years in the world’s most competitive basketball league-the NBA; however his retirement doesn’t strike his fans as much of a surprise as the 40-year-old star had been battling serious nerve related problems for the last two years.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa Nash represented Canada internationally and holds the dual citizenship of Canada and Great Britain. Unlike many superstars, who began playing the sport at a very young age, Nash set his goal of playing in the NBA at the age of 13.
Despite being a late bloomer, Nash averaged a near triple double [21.3 points, 11.2 assists and 9.1 rebounds] during his senior year at St. Michaels University in British Columbia. He went on to play for the Santa Clara Bronco’s with a full scholarship for all four years.
Here’s a video of Nash in high school:
Drafted 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1996 NBA Draft, Nash played for two other teams over the course of his career: the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Lakers. His second stint with the Suns was his most successful time as a player as he carried the team to two Western Conference Finals: 2005 and 2010.
His stint with the Lakers was supposed to bring championships back to Los Angeles; instead the three years were nothing short of a nightmare. He played only 65 games for the purple and gold outfit out of a possible 250. Although it is unfortunate that an injury had to end his career in this manner, his time in the NBA will not be forgotten for more reasons than one.
Components of his game
Steve Nash was one of the best, if not the best traditional point guards this game has ever seen. His court vision combined with his ball handling skills allowed him to make passes to open teammates that would leave his opposing defenders clueless of the proceedings. He didn’t play a lot of defense and wasn’t good at it, so his game mainly consisted of two components: High percentage shooting and keeping the ball alive for the best possible shot.
While in Dallas, his strength to absolutely destroy opponents while playing pick and roll with Dirk Nowitzki brought a lot of recognition and appreciation to his game. He continued to weave his magic using the pick and roll in Phoenix with Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. Nash’s unselfish playing style was a huge reason the BIG three in Phoenix, gained league wide fame. There are have been many that believe otherwise but given the track record of the Suns team in Nash’s first two years there, he completely deserved and earned his two league MVP awards.
Stats wise and team success wise, his first two years back at Phoenix were the best couple of years of his career.
It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that Nash is among the best shooters this league has ever seen when he is a member of 50-40-90 club not just once but on four occasions. Two times Hall of Famer Larry Bird is the only other player to achieve that feat more than once (3 times). To top it off, his career shooting percentage from the charity strike is a NBA record 90.4%.
Before he entered the league it wasn’t the norm for the point guard keep the ball to himself till he finds a good pass. Every player on the team had a right to make a play for his teammate. Well, Nash wasn’t going to stop his dribble till he found a good pass even if it meant only he had to dribble the ball for 20 second of the shot clock. Many might criticize his ways, but Nash and the Suns were more successful when he kept the ball alive, keeping all his options open.
Contributions to the game
Nash’s second stint with the Suns, under Head Coach Mike D’Antoni and the system that their team played, back in the mid-2000’s became a blueprint to how current successful teams play their ball like the San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors and the Atlanta Hawks.
Nash’s playing style has become an inspiration for many current point guards looking to make the best pass possible and not the first pass possible. He changed the way the point guards played in this league. Another awe fact about Nash is his work ethic and fitness.
Players that begin playing before they are 10, train and work real hard to get to the NBA and maybe might make it big. Nash began playing basketball at the age of 13 and yet not only remained but dominated the point guard spot for a majority of his 19 years in the league. Adding to that, he played 19 seasons even after playing all four seasons at college, i.e, entering the league at 21. It takes a lot to play ball in your late 30’s and other than the unfortunate last two years, Nash’s fitness is a model of sorts for players that wish to remain in the sport for as long as possible.
Bitter Sweet memories
Here’s a great career mix:
Nash was an eighth time NBA All-Star and has been a member of the All-NBA team seven times. He won the skills challenge at the All-Star Weekend twice (2005,2010) and was a 5 time assists leader. He ranks third overall on NBA’s Assists leaders with 10,335 assists behind Jason Kidd (12,091) and John Stockton (15,806).
He might not mention it, but he will regret that he has no championship rings to wear on his hand. He is the only player with Karl Malone to have two league MVP’s, but never win the title. He is also the only MVP in the history of the league to have never progressed to the NBA Finals.
He represented Canada in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and helped them stun Spain, but couldn’t help them finish higher than eighth. In the FIBA Americas Olympic Qualification tournament, Canada failed to progress to the next round but Nash was named the tournament MVP.
We all wish we could see more of a healthy Nash on the court, but all good things must come to an end. His retirement is the end of an era, the end of a legacy whose impact on the game will always remain.
Player reactions on Twitter:
S/o to @SteveNash hanging it up for good! Inspired me to play the way I do and paved the way. Congrats on all your success and enjoy life!— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) March 21, 2015
Congrats @SteveNash for all you've done for the game of bball..It was worth fighting to resume my career to have the chance to play with you— grant hill (@realgranthill33) March 21, 2015
Congrats @SteveNash on an amazing career. It was a pleasure to compete against you so many times. Enjoy!— Manu Ginobili (@manuginobili) March 21, 2015
Congrats @SteveNash! Incredible career. One of the best to ever play the Point Guard position! Enjoy your retirement my man! Next stop HOF!— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) March 21, 2015
Hats off to @SteveNash. It was great coaching him. He did so much for the game. Made everyone around him better. Yes including the Coach— Alvin Gentry (@AlvinGentry) March 22, 2015
Congrats to my guy Mr. 50/40/90 himself, @SteveNash on a stellar career. A true innovator on the court. Excited to see the next phase!— Shane Battier (@ShaneBattier) March 22, 2015
Congrats @SteveNash for being an inspiration and one of the best PGs ever!! Thanks for makin the Bay Area proud!— Jeremy Lin (@JLin7) March 22, 2015