Many Lakers’ fans (or maybe they’re a very vocal subset) would just as soon forget Steve Nash’s entire tenure as a Laker. After all, over his three year contract, he was only really fully healthy for a single game. After breaking his leg in his second regular season game, and then having his recovery and rehab continuously lose out to setbacks, we never got to see what he could really offer. As I have written, fans (and, to a certain extent his teammates and the organization) have a right to feel frustrated about that. Not as frustrated as Nash, but that’s a different story for a different day.
Those days are in the past, though. Just as, it seems, Nash’s pursuit of ever playing in the NBA again is in the past. Today Steve Nash announced his retirement via a self penned column at The Player’s Tribune:
I heard someone once say there comes a day when they tell us all that we can’t play anymore. We’re not good enough. Surplus to requirements. Too slow, maybe. When you’re a teenager with outsized dreams and a growing obsession, and someone tells you this ain’t gonna last forever, it’s scary. I never forgot it.
So what did I do? Stayed obsessed. Set goals. Worked. Dreamed. Schemed. Pushed myself beyond what was normal or expected. I looked at my hero, Isiah Thomas, and thought to myself, “OK, I’m nowhere near the player he is but if I get better every day for 5 or 10 years, why can’t I be as good as him?”
The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much — visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes. The obsession became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her and got knocked on my ass by her.
And that is what I’m most thankful for in my career. In my entire life, in some ways. Obviously, I value my kids and my family more than the game, but in some ways having this friend — this ever-present pursuit — has made me who I am, taught me and tested me, and given me a mission that feels irreplaceable. I am so thankful. I’ve learned so many invaluable lessons about myself and about life. And of course I still have so much to learn. Another incredible gift.
Nash went on to thank many of the people who helped him along the way, fittingly deflecting and giving credit to those around him just as he did all those years with the Suns and the Mavs. As for his time with the Lakers, Nash briefly touched on that part of his career too:
When I signed with the Lakers, I had big dreams of lifting the fans up and lighting this city on fire. I turned down more lucrative offers to come to L.A. because I wanted to be in the “fire,” and play for high risk and high reward in my last NBA chapter. In my second game here, I broke my leg and nothing was the same.
Last spring, when I returned to the court, I was given a standing ovation at Staples Center. It was a dark time in my career and that gesture will be one of my best memories. There’s been a lot of negativity online, but in my nearly three years in L.A., I’ve never met anyone who didn’t show me anything but love and support for my efforts. There’s a lot of class in Lakerland, and the organization and staff have given me unwavering support.
As I noted on twitter, That 2013 season will always be a huge what if for me. What if Nash never breaks his leg, what if Dwight didn’t return so early in the season, what if Kobe doesn’t play that insane number of minutes down the stretch of the season, what if, what if…
Of course, we can’t play that game. What happened, happened. And in the wake of all that is the team we see in front of us now. I will never blame Nash for any of that, though. What happened to him — and as part of the domino effect, the team — was unfortunate. But he’s not to blame. In a way, no one really is. There was always risk in acquiring him, but what has played out over the last three years is the worst case scenario for his time here. I’m sure as hell happy I’m not judged as a person based off the worst version of myself.
In any event, best of luck to Nash in his post basketball life. Things may not have worked out with the Lakers, but he had a great career and he was always one of my favorite players to watch. I will miss him.