Report: Steve Nash Suffering from Nerve Root Irritation in Back

Darius Soriano —  November 11, 2013

Steve Nash couldn’t finish Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves after experiencing pain in his back. When the 2nd half started, Nash remained in the locker room and after the game he said he would see a back specialist to get more information.

Well, the news is back and it doesn’t sound promising:

As Dave McMenamin mentions, Nash treated his back issues with an epidural during last year’s playoffs and it really didn’t help. It relieved his pain in the short term, but did not allow him to get on the floor to play in the games.

The fact that Nash is still experiencing issues with his back is a major concern. The fact that it’s nerve “irritation” is even more concerning since the timeline given comes along with the caveat of “a minimum of” and “will be reevaluated in 10 days” rather than a standard timetable of “out X days/weeks” and that’s that. The fact is the Lakers went through a similar issue with Nash last season when he broke his leg only to have nerve irritation throw his recovery timeline into a permanent fog.

If you recall, after Nash broke his leg, he was listed as being out for roughly two weeks, then was listed as day to day, only to have that regress to out indefinitely as the nerve problems kept bothering him. When Nash finally was cleared to play he clearly was not 100% and seemed to only come back to try and help the team when they were making their push for the playoffs.

That strategy did little for his long term health, however, as the rest of his body started to cause him problems as he (likely) had to overcompensate for his bad leg. Hip and hamstring issues developed and ultimately that caused his back to flare up. Back issues that, apparently, remain today even after a summer of rest and then training to build up his strength.

At this point, I wouldn’t bet on Nash being back in two weeks. Kevin Ding tweeted that these nerve irritation issues can last up to two months and considering Nash’s age and the fact that these issues have been persisting for some time doesn’t make for an ideal healing situation. And while I don’t want to speculate, it wouldn’t surprise me if Nash is out for a long time or that he ends up coming back on a timeline that’s relatively short (say 2-4 weeks) only to end up having more issues that put him on the injured list later in the season for the same reason.

In any event, the Lakers must now move on without Nash and that will mean more time for Steve Blake at point guard, more time for Jodie Meeks at shooting guard, and more time for Jordan Farmar since he’ll move to the primary back up for Blake as the lead guard. In a normal year this would be seen as a disaster as Nash would be considered the best of those four players. This year, however, Nash has been the least productive of the foursome and his absence should allow the Lakers to find more stability in their backcourt while also putting the team’s most productive guards on the floor for longer stretches.

As an aside, typing that paragraph is probably one of the saddest things I’ve ever written. The Lakers traded for Nash two summers ago and saw him as a player who could elevate the point guard position while helping the team contend for a title. After all, Nash was (is, actually) a hall of fame player who was still putting up very good numbers in Phoenix. What’s transpired, though, is Nash dealing with injury after injury and falling to a level that is unrecognizable for any fan who’s watched his career to this point. You always want players to age gracefully and to be able to go out on their own terms. Instead, Nash seems to be falling apart before our eyes. And, really, there’s nothing sadder than that.

Darius Soriano

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to Report: Steve Nash Suffering from Nerve Root Irritation in Back

  1. Brian Kam today:

    “The Lakers need to work out their rotation, find some cohesive execution on defense, bring energy and focus at all times, and all that stuff. But those are cosmetic fixes relative to the fundamental issue: A lack of high-end NBA talent.”

    As to Nash, he should just stay out for quite some time, or get surgery. And yes, it is sad.


  2. Sad for Steve but the best for the team . Nash and Pau on the floor was like an old movie called ” Slow and slower ” I hope he gets better and the added speed and play of Blake and Jordan helps the teams bad defense.


  3. Let’s give Kendall Marshall’s agent a call


  4. Darius,

    Thank you for your post on what is, indeed, a dispiriting subject. It was difficult for you to write and it was equally difficult to read.

    I am not a physician. But having nerve problems in your back at the age of 39 (which is old for a basketball player but young for a business professional) sounds like a very serious thing.

    For the sake of his health, I honestly believe it might be best for Steve to retire. I have not been among those who’s been calling for Steve Nash to end his career. In fact, I’ve been hoping that he’d stick it out. But this has evolved into another–and a more serious–matter.

    Steve has got to take care of himself. He has the rest of his life ahead of him. And he has great accolades to look back on. There’s no shame in leaving the game. It happens to all athletes.

    I now truly believe that it may be time for Steve to move on. It’s difficult for me to admit that. But the truth must be faced. I do wish him well.


  5. Time to buy some goldfish. We got a place to put them this season. Watch out Boston & Utah, you’ve got some competition on the Wiggins front


  6. Boston is actually 4-4 now.

    I can’t see Nash–or almost anyone else for that matter–leaving the amount of money the Lakers owe him on the table. So it seems to me that something would need to be worked out. Don’t know the particulars of buyouts, career-ending injuries, etc.


  7. The rebuilding Celtics now 4 and 4 and Clips beating Wolfs easy.



  8. Keno,
    The Clips are not known as a defensive club and the Wolves were targeting the Lakers – recent history would suggest this – therefore a letdown on the 2nd night would not be a surprise.


  9. Clippers won 109-107. Minnesota actually outscored them in the 4th.


  10. It kinda sucks for D’Antoni to be 90+ games into his tenure as Lakers coach and hear him still talk about finding an identity. Those things and roles should’ve been established in camp and preseason. And now players should be figuring out how to maximize their games within their given roles in the system. I’m basically taking that quote as players don’t know what to do out there and falls squarely on D’Antoni. As a fan you try to be patient and give credit for saving players legs with the ten man rotation. But not having an identity, roles and playing with no purpose is D’Antoni’s fault.

    Thought Lakers would be able to create turnovers with the speed on the perimeter but that hasn’t happened. They’re bottom of the league in steals. Meeks has done a solid job on both ends and has been the best perimeter player so far. Definitely will be highly sought on the trade market. Farmar has been disappointing. He’s being indecisive on offense and that’s leading to his team high 3 turnovers per game in only 21 minutes. I’d like to see a little more of the 09 Farmar instead of the guy intent on being a floor general. Nobody on the team can attack the defense with speed like he can.

    Lakers post offense and mid range game is non existent with no Kobe. Coaches need to find ways to get easy points inside the 3 point line. Players showing they can’t do it on their own, coaches need to help them. I don’t think there is anything more players can do to improve the team, the coaches have to guide them. Fundamentals, identity and roles. I haven’t given up on the team but can’t see light at the end of the tunnel anymore either.


  11. Darius –
    If Nash was no longer able to go and did in fact retire either midseason or in the offseason. How does that effect the lakers payroll in the future?


  12. my understanding is that if Nash has to retire because of the nerve injury, insurance would pay out the remainder of his contract. not sure how it would count against the Lakers cap or if it would under this new cba – but previously teams would apply for amnesty measures which would allow them to sign another play to fill that roster spot without being penalized for it – not sure if thats still allowed. thats the real shame in all of this – Nash’s skills haven’t declined and he’s in great shape – but the nerve issue makes it impossible to play. And it certainly can be career ending regardess of age – Todd Macullough (played on 76ers when they went to the Finals w AI) only played 5-6 years but had a foot injury that resulted in similar nerve damage and pain in his legs which ended his promising career well before he was 30 as a skilled 7-footer and basically made it too painful to play. This isn’t a case of age catching up – this is someones career cut short because of that random broken shin.


  13. Ian R., being the site’s resident accountant, here are a few things you need to know about retirements:

    1. Nash can “voluntarily retire” and forego all remaining salary and cannot return to the league for 1 year.
    2. Nash can be declared as having a career-ending injury or ilness whereby he receives his salary but its no longer counted against our team. And since its less than 10 games into the season, this could be a move the Lakers can make to get below the tax line.

    For more clarifications:


  14. Steve Nash is like Andrew Bynum. Both are lost causes who are expensive and accomplish nothing. The Lakers at least traded Andrew away – though received nothing in return.

    I think the Lakers need to cut their losses and buy up Steve Nash’s contract. He needs to retire. And the Lakers have to move on. They already lost $20 Million on a non-playing non-staying Howard. What’s another $20 Million?

    Unfortunately, Nash is toast.


  15. Losing Nash is addition by subtraction. He can go the route of medical retirement and seat on the bench in a coaching capacity. The Lakers will be better without both Nash and Pau in the starting lineup. Unfortunately, we have to keep Pau. Hopefully people can see how Kobe made Pau much much better. Pau has skill but never had heart. How crazy is it that without Kobe on the court with him Pau is 0-16 in playoff games. For someone of Pau’s talent that would seem impossible but hopefully the man’s play to open this season can serve as an eye opener for all. Pau and Lamar Odom owe Kobe Bryant all the relevance they have in their NBA careers. Talented played who simply lack any kind of drive.


  16. Rusty Shackleford November 12, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Will the available minutes all go to Jodie Meeks or will Farmar get some extended.turns? I’d like to see Henry snatch some of the minutes.


  17. There is an ongoing tug of war between how good our bench is and how bad our starters are. The reason is simple, young and hungry vs old and deflated. And slow. And lazy. Its time we started our best players.

    Steve Blake has relative success as starting PG but on defense he flat out gets slaughtered. Mostly out of size disadvantage but also because he’s limited to start with. Jordan Farmar needs to get a test-start just to see where he takes us. Dribble penetration and perimeter defense. Thats the part where Farmar takes the starting job.

    Jordan Hill has energy. Thats exacly what our current starting unit doesn’t have. Logic.

    Meeks is the ideal 2. Well, given that Kobe hasn’t come back yet. I say Nick Young remains the 3 and of course Ka-Pow at 4.


  18. note to steve nash: not a bad thing to retire as a laker. although your accolades and hall of fame credentials will be attributed to your history with the phoenix suns; it was laker ownership and management that made it possible for you to become potententially laker’s 2nd best point guard ever. due to health reasons, that did not happen. you do however have the opportunity to reciprocate and do the right thing: not a bad thing to retire as a laker.

    Go lakers


  19. david h, that article you linked us is scary.


  20. Before the season began, I stated on several occasions, within this FB&G Community, that in order for the team to garner any type of success, they would need to sacrifice offense for defense. Within this equation, I advocated for more playing time for Farmar and less for Nash. It’s now looking as if this is about to come into fruition, but not in the way that I hoped for. Know one wants to see Nash go out like this, but it’s quite obvious that, due to his body failing him and his age, he’s a shell of what he used to be. And personally, I don’t see the situation improving at all for the duration of what’s left of his Hall of Fame Career. However, with that being said, I think that we’ll be better off in the short and long term of it.

    D’Antoni – “That’s the problem, .. We’re leading the league with bench points .. ”

    The question then becomes, how far has this gotten – or is getting – us so far? I am of the belief that “bench points” is one of the most overrated stats in the league. There are just too many different variables to weigh when measuring bench points. For instance –
    1. A team may be bringing in a player from off of their bench that, in actuality, should be a starter (Example – Harden, while he was with OKC).
    2. Blowout scenario’s in which the team that’s getting beaten has ample time to give their reserve players a significant amount of floor burn to pile up points against a team that’s taken their foot off the gas.

    Those are just 2 examples, but there are numerous others and I’m sure that D’Antoni recognizes that 1 of the least efficient ways to gauge the success of a team is through the amount of points that the bench scores.

    It all goes back to what Double R quoted from the Kbros, “A lack of high-end NBA talent.” And because of this – although better than in years past – our bench is bound to look exceptional.


  21. as an aside to steve nash: health willing, would probably benefit the entire team to spend time coaching the point guards for the remainder of your tenure with the lakers.

    Go lakers


  22. Really terrible thing for this to happen to a great guy like Nash. I wish him the best of luck recovering but hope he will only come back if healthy enough to play.


  23. Really feel bad for Nash. I have the utmost respect for him and hope that he can make a full recovery. Part of me does wish that he would hang em up and let the Lakers move on…


  24. Too bad for Nash. But it is time; he’s had a long career, presumably will be set for life. He’s the kind of intelligent, team-first guy who will find his way in coaching/management–maybe with the Lakers. As others have said, he should retire for himself first and foremost, but also to help out the team that foolishly bet on an old guy with a bad back, to their detriment and the consternation of their fans.

    An epidural is a temporary fix, and be avoided if possible.


  25. As everyone knows I’m rooting for the lakers to lose as many games as possible. That’s why I was rooting for as many minutes as possible for Nash, Blake, and Pau. This is terrible news.


  26. As a conspiracy theorist, I’d have to say the Nash situation has worked out perfectly for the Phoenix Suns. By allowing Steve to go to the Lakers, they:

    A) Allowed Goran Dragic to become their point guard without the accompanying angst associated with the demotion of fan favorite Nash. The last I looked, Dragic is playing very, very well.

    B) Saddled the division rival and long time nemesis Lakers with a debilitating contract for a player who has given The Show virtually nothing, except good intentions.

    C) Acquired Lakers’ draft picks in the Nash deal that, at the very least slow down the Lakers’ rebuilding process.

    It’s far fetched to believe that Phx. management could’ve been that devious but things have certainly worked out well for them. However, I never believed that their motives were completely altruistic in trading Nash to the team of his choice so that he could “be near his kids”. They certainly knew they were clearing the way for a younger Dragic. And now, Nash’s misfortunes have hamstrung the Lakers for his entire tenure with them.

    I’ve never been a big Steve Nash fan. I remember the Raja Bell days and some of the comments Nash made regarding Kobe and the Lakers during that time. I was hoping for good results from his being traded to the Lakers. Now, I’m just hoping the Lakers can move on from the debacle his signing and subsequent injuries have created and helped to fester.