Steve Nash went into the locker room during halftime of the Los Angeles Lakers’ embarrassing blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, and he never returned. The official cause cited by team officials was back pain, and while that may be true for this particular incident, it’s only part of why he’s been so ineffective over the past year and change.
Nash, 39, has struggled with back issues throughout his entire career. They never stopped him from playing no fewer than 75 games between 2004 and 2011. In his final year with the Phoenix Suns Nash played 65 games – his lowest total since 1999. The writing was on the wall. This wasn’t back pains aching up because the weather was cold, it was old age.
Two games into his run with the Los Angeles Lakers last year, Nash suffered a fracture after banging knees with Damian Lillard. He was initially supposed to miss a week; he ended up missing two months/32 games.
After a full summer of recovery, everyone understood that this season would tell us everything we needed to know about Nash. If he could be healthy, then all was good in the world. If he couldn’t, then it couldn’t just be chalked up to bad luck.
Despite missing two of the Lakers’ first eight games so that he could rest, Nash is averaging 7.6 points on 28 percent shooting this year. With this most recent injury, one that will keep him out at least two weeks, it’s safe to say that things aren’t getting better.
For obvious reasons, some folks have been calling on the former two-time MVP to retire.
In an interview with Ken Berger of CBS Sports, Nash, sounding surprisingly defiant, made it perfectly clear that he would play out his deal with the Lakers.
“I've got 18 months,” he said. “So we'll see. Hopefully, I can get through 18 months and contribute and produce.
When pressed on whether he would consider calling it quits after this season if he felt like he wasn’t the same player anymore, Nash offered this reply:
“I don't think so,” he admitted. “I'm already not the player I want to be and just [have] a different body. My body's different. I'm still trying to adjust and adapt and get my body to accept a certain amount of the pounding and forces and be able to adjust my game and still be productive. I still feel like I've got a lot of life left without basketball so I'm going to try to enjoy it and make the most of these last 18-20 months, whatever it is.”
Unfortunately, whether they like it or not, it sounds like the Lakers are stuck with Nash.