When I first heard that the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Steve Nash on July 11, 2012, I was borderline irate. I thought it was one of the biggest mistakes that General Manager Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers’ organization had made. I was never a fan of Steve Nash and having him be a part of the team I supported wasn’t exactly music to my ears.
However, I decided to put my personal bias aside and give him a chance.
When Steve Nash came to the Lakers in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns he was 38 years old. But age didn’t seem to be a factor for the Lakers’ organization because they viewed Nash as a 2-time MVP, 8-time All-Star and one of the top ranked players in NBA league history for three-point shooting, free-throw shooting, total assists and assists per game.
That’s where they went wrong. They saw him as what he used to be, now what he actually is… now.
After adding Dwight Howard to the roster last season, Kupchak believed he had put together a team that could not be beat. There was a lot of hype about last year’s team and many had hopes that the Lakers will win the championship.
As a Lakers’ fan I didn’t quite think we’d have a great season and I most definitely disliked the move to make Nash a Laker. I was hoping that Nash and the Lakers could prove me wrong, but unfortunately they didn’t.
In the second game of the season, Nash suffered a fracture in his left leg and was expected to be sidelined for a week. Eventually, that one week became seven weeks. When Nash finally returned to the lineup, his former head coach, Mike D’Antoni had taken over as head coach for the recently fired Mike Brown. The reunion of Nash and D’Antoni had many people excited and hopeful that Nash would have a significant contribution for the Lakers. But he didn’t.
Nash missed a total of 32 games in the regular season and finished the season averaging 12.7 points and 6.7 assists. Nash was everything but an all-star last season. Of course his injuries played a big role in the limited impact he had, but that should have been expected. After all, he is now entering his 18th season in the NBA and is 39 years old. Just because he was once on of the best point guards in the game, doesn’t mean he will eternally remain the best.
Imagine this hypothetical situation. Michael Jordan, arguably one of the best players of all-time gets signed by the Lakers and is expected to play like an MVP at the age of 50. Simply put, it’s stupid.
You can’t expect someone like Nash, who has played 18 years in the NBA, play like he played during his prime. The game of basketball, just like any other sport, takes a toll on a person’s body after years of playing. Even though 39 years old isn’t considered “old” in real life, in basketball years, Steve Nash is considered a grandfather and it’s time the Lakers realize that.
When asked about what the Lakers expect from Nash this upcoming season, Pau Gasol said, “Steve hasn’t been able to complete a practice yet, so that’s the bigger issue’…’I'm a little bit concerned because I want him to be healthy, I want him to play. I want him to play and I want him to do well. I want him to help us. I hope that he can”. If Gasol is concerned about Nash, fans and the Lakers’ organization should be concerned as well.
If you still believe Nash deserves to be the starting point guard for the Lakers this season despite his inconsistency and his health issues, take a look at what Nash has to say: “It’s a different stage in my career. I used to be able to get out, run up and down and feel like a world-beater every day, and now I have to try and get myself into some sort of form to try and execute for my team. It’s a different frame of mind. It’s a different challenge”.
This isn’t good news for the Lakers who expect Nash to be a leader on the floor and lead the Lakers to the playoffs. With Kobe Bryant’s return date still up in the air, D’Antoni expects his point guard to take charge and be a commander on the hard court. But D’Antoni is expecting way too much. Nash turns 40 in February and his health has been a huge concern for the last few seasons.
Luckily, the Lakers have a back up plan. Steve Blake who took over the starting role in Nash’s absence last season averaged 7.3 points and 3.8 assists. Additionally, this off-season, the Lakers signed Jordan Farmar who is expected to be the main backup if Nash is healthy. Nevertheless, it looks like Farmar might take over the starting role if Nash remains sidelined.
Even though he was a two-time MVP and one of the best point guards in the NBA, the end is near for Nash. There comes a time when every player says goodbye to the game they loved and played all their lives.
The solution is simple. D’Antoni should have Farmar be the starting point guard and have Steve Nash come off the bench and play with the second team and be a mentor for the younger players. I doubt the Lakers will try to trade Nash or release him, but he has become a liability for the Lakers and is hurting the team as opposed to helping them.
The feeling I felt when the Lakers acquired Nash and my feelings for him until today, haven’t changed. I respect Nash and his contributions to the game of basketball, but I’ve had enough of seeing him in a Lakers’ uniform performing at such mediocre levels.
The Lakers’ focus has always been to win championships and Nash is not the man who can get the job done.
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