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NBA: Steve Nash Is One Of The All-Time Greats

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On Wednesday, April 25, 2012, Steve Nash played his last game of the season for the Phoenix Suns, his employer for 10 seasons. That may have also been his final game for the Suns, and indeed might have been his last game ever as an NBA player. JOE LaTENGO comes not to bury Steve Nash, but to praise him. 

It’s fitting, and fortunate, that in a game invented by a Canadian (James Naismith) in America — at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 — a Canadian (although born in Johannesburg, South Africa) should rise to such a prominent position in an American-dominated sport, and be so respected by players and fans alike.

This is where Steve Nash finds himself. He has played for only two teams in his 16 seasons. This is the first time he’s been an unrestricted free agent since 2004, and he can go anywhere he wants. No one would begrudge him if he threw in the towel and called time on a wonderful career.

In 2006, ESPN named him the ninth greatest point guard of all time; he is also ranked as one of the best ever in three-point shooting, free throws, total assists and assists per game. The same year, Time magazine called Nash one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

How did he do it? Well, he did not do it by being a thug or a smartass; he never elbowed opponents in the head or stuck his fingers in their ears. He did it by paying attention to the game and how he trained for it; he did it by giving credit to his opponents when it was due. Mostly he did it simply by being a professional, and by never putting himself above the game he loves, the people he plays with and against, or the people who pay to see him.

He played only 17 minutes in his final appearance of the 2011-12 season, but he experienced what few players do: he was called back for an encore in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter as shouts of “WE WANT NASH!” ripped through the US Airways Center. Head coach Alvin Gentry obliged, and so did Nash.

He stepped on the court, brought the ball into play and promptly did something else he’s noted for: he turned the ball over with an errant pass.

Hey, nobody’s perfect. In fact, when all is said and done, Nash could be one of the greatest players to never win an NBA championship. The fact is, though, that at this point even he doesn’t know whether this was his last game as a professional. It’s probably unlikely he’ll retire now: When asked a few weeks ago where he would go, Nash said he would consider joining the Miami Heat.

That’s just one option: other rumors have him going to the Knicks and the Hawks. Many even think he’ll go back to the Mavericks, and some believe he’s such a “company man” that there’s a good chance he’ll re-sign with the lowly Suns.

Nash may have some high-quality basketball days ahead of him yet, or he might just determine that he’s ready for new challenges. Whatever his decision, he’s one of the best to ever grace the hardwood. Somewhere in basketball heaven, James Naismith must be smiling.

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