With one, simple tweet, the illustrious NBA career of Steve Nash has come to an end.
Nash announced his retirement today via an article on The Players' Tribune, ending an 18-year career that came with back-to-back MVP awards, eight All-Star appearances and heading a Phoenix Suns team that revolutionized the way offensive basketball was played.
Nash was drafted 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1996 NBA Draft. He would end up in Dallas two seasons later, where he, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley and others joined forces to create one of the most potent offenses in the NBA. But it was back in Phoenix, where he landed in 2004, that Nash would stake his claim as one of the best point guards to ever play the game.
Under head coach Mike D'Antoni's "7 Seconds or Less" offensive philosophy, Nash orchestrated an offensive machine the likes of which the NBA hadn't seen before. Nash ran a devastating pick and roll with a pre-knee surgery Amar'e Stoudemire, while the Suns front office surrounded him with a bevy of 3-point shooters, from Joe Johnson to James Jones. It led to Nash leading the league in assists per games three straight seasons, including 2006, when he averaged 18.8 points per game and 10.5 assists while shooting 51 percent from the field.
Nash was fantastic at getting to the hoop with his handles, then contorting his body for an impossible scoop lay-up or reverse to avoid the forest of big men that stood in his way. His passes in the lane to Stoudemire were magical, often finding his big man even when he could not see his exact position on the court. And although the Suns never made an NBA Finals, mostly due to the San Antonio Spurs (DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE ONE GAME SUSPENSION OF STOUDEMIRE IN 2007 FOR LEAVING THE BENCH AFTER NASH GOT HIP CHECKED BY ROBERT HORRY), the Suns brand of basketball with Nash at the helm was some of the best ever, and paved the way for the modern offensive philosophy that favors 3-pointers and shots in the paint and discourages mid-range jumpers.
"It will always hurt that Phoenix Suns fans didn’t get the championship they deserved during our run. Yes, we had some bad luck but I always look back at it and think, I could’ve made one more shot, or not forced a turnover, or made a better pass. But I don’t regret anything. The arena was always sold out and rocking. It was the time of my life. Thanks, Phoenix."
Nash's career ends somewhat disappointingly, as injuries kept him from ever creating the terrifying three-headed monster that was to be Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in Los Angeles. But for almost a decade, Nash was one of, if not the best point guard in all of the NBA. And no one will ever be able to take that away from him.
"I will likely never play basketball again. It’s bittersweet. I already miss the game deeply, but I’m also really excited to learn to do something else. This letter is for anyone who’s taken note of my career. At the heart of this letter, I’m speaking to kids everywhere who have no idea what the future holds or how to take charge of their place in it. When I think of my career, I can’t help but think of the kid with his ball, falling in love. That’s still what I identify with and did so throughout my entire story."
There has been an outpouring of love for Nash on Twitter that gives you a glimpse of just how much he meant to the game of basketball. Steve Nash, you will be missed.
The ranks in offensive efficiency of teams led by Steve Nash from 2002-2010: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 1st.— Conrad Kaczmarek (@ConradKazNBA) March 21, 2015
Steve Nash didn't just make teammates better. He let this writer in like few stars ever have. True honor to cover him for nearly two decades— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 21, 2015
Know how we're in the golden era of point guards? It all started with Steve Nash. He's the modern prototype.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 21, 2015
aw man steve nash is retiring. one of my all-time favorites. i hate that people have to get older it blows.— Lana Berry (@Lana) March 21, 2015
Said it before: Nash and D'Antoni changed the NBA together, and forever. Just ask Pop, and any other thinking coach. Revolutionaries.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) March 21, 2015
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[Via The Players' Tribune]