Steve Nash has seen it all in his nearly 20 years in the NBA. However, he is currently going through the toughest stretch of his Hall of Fame career. Nash has to ask himself the hardest, and most personal, question any athlete has to face…. can I go on. Can I still perform at the level that i expect from myself?
Prior to the 2012 – 2013 season, Steve signed with the powerhouse Lakers and envisioned teaming with fellow superstar Kobe Bryant and contending for the NBA title every season. What has transpired though is more of a nightmare than the dream that Nash and the Lakers had envisioned. Of the 134 games since he became a Laker, Nash has only played in 62; 52 in his first season, and 10 so far this season. He has been limited by a number of injuries, including nerve root irritation in his leg, a stiff neck, and a bad ankle. The leg injury stems from his fractured fibula suffered in November of 2012.
After spending grueling days in rehabilitation, Nash was ready to return to the Lakers after spending three months on the shelf. He played in two games and flashed some of the skills that have allowed him to amass more than 17,000 points and 10,000 assists in his career. However, in a nationally televised game against the Chicago Bulls this past Sunday, Nash again came up lame and had to come out of the game. His availability for games is uncertain, and he is officially listed by the Lakers as “day to day”.
About this latest setback, Nash reports:
Some days it sucks. But other days, you feel great and you have a good session or a good game and it’s all worth it. Basically, I’ve worked out twice a day for 10 months just so I can try to get back on the floor. One, I love the game and want to be a part of this team, and two, it’s my job.
Everyone, at some point, has to deal with their own career mortality. It’s never an easy decision to retire or know when you can’t perform at the required level any longer. For an athlete it is an even harder decision on many levels. Nash is used to playing at the highest level in the NBA. He is now experiencing the decline in his body and subsequently his skill level. In his mind, he knows what he has to do to be successful, but his body won’t allow him to do it any longer. Steve Nash is allowing us to see this process in agonizing detail in a video documentary released by Grantland, titled, “The Finish Line”. In a released portion of the video, Nash recounts:
Every athlete, when they lose their skill, they lose a big part of themselves — a part that they build their life around, a part that has been a huge part of their purpose, self-esteem, identity. So when the skill or ability goes, it’s like there’s been a death. So on the one hand, I’m lucky I’ve gotten the better part of 18 years of it. On the other hand… it’ll never be the same again.
The Lakers have to make certain business decisions regarding Nash’s contract and whether they will bring him back next season. But at this point, Laker fans, and basketball fans in general, are saddened to see the painful road that Steve Nash has to travel to try to get back on the court, all the while dealing with the rapidly approaching end of his stellar career.