Steve, Take the "Nash" to the Bank
Steve Nash was named NBA MVP twice, and was very close to getting his third one year later, in 2007. The only other players that controlled a team the way Nash does the Phoenix Suns were Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
There have been many great point guards that are now in the Hall of Fame, and there are some players today that look well on their way to joining the Hall.
So, what did these enshrined players all have in common? They all had specific qualities that were good for their teams.
Two years ago, we got used to seeing Suns' games that looked like they were going down to the wire. But suddenly, Nash would hit two three-pointers, or send an amazing assist to Shawn Marion or Amare Stoudemire for the jam, and that would close out a victory.
How can we forget the amazing game against Jason Kidd's New Jersey Nets in 2007—a double-overtime contest featuring several amazing shots by Nash? Or the incredible games against Dallas in which Nash, whenever he was mismatched with his best friend Dirk Nowitzki guarding him, took it to the hoop and made a stunning score?
This year, Nash has had three great games. The first was in Toronto—where the fans cheered for their fellow Canadian. The second happened in Madison Square Garden—where Steve's friend and former coach Mike D'Antoni is head coach—and the third occurred yesterday in Detroit.
How can we explain this? Easy.
When Nash is having fun, he's at his best. He's hard to stop and he knows when to pass and when to shoot.
So where was he against San Antonio in the 2008 Playoffs? Does Bruce Bowen really defend that well?
Suns coach Terry Porter has realized that when the ball is in Steve’s hands, good things happen. Just like in the past seasons, the team slows down and usually loses the lead when Nash is on the bench. The problem is, you can’t have Nash playing 48 minutes a game but, no backup can match his style.
Looking back at Nash's MVP years, you can see the difference from this season and his games against San Antonio last April.
In 2005 and 2006, he was in control, focused, and he knew he needed to lead his team by making the right moves at the right times. Yet for some unknown reason, he disappeared against San Antonio. Could it have been Bruce Bowen’s defense? I'm not sure. Yes, Bruce is a good (albeit dirty) defender, but in my opinion, an MVP should be able to outplay him.
This season, however, Phoenix has Shaquille O'Neal—also a leader who will take control when needed. In addition, they have Stoudemire, and the man-child wants to start taking over as well. But with all due respect, it has to be Nash, and only Nash. The Suns winning games is all up to him.
In my previous article, I noted that Porter is the problem. But he can change things—he just needs to keep Nash happy.
To coach a team like Phoenix, which has so many experienced MVPs, All-Stars, champions or wunderkinds, the coach needs to be more of a friend to the veterans and a teacher to the young.
Like they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Nash has to know that it's all up to him. The Suns will ether play well and go far, or stumble and crash. It's all based on Nash.
Everybody is talking about potential trades, changes, firings, hirings, and signings. Regardless, whoever ends up in Steve's supporting cast must realize that it is this point guard the heart-and-soul of the franchise.
If Shaq, Stoudemire and Porter let Nash be the man, Phoenix can be on top again.More importantly, Nash needs to know that he is the man, and he needs to know that the team relies on him.
He must return to the form of his MVP years of the not-so-distant past and get this team back together. The Suns have the best roster in the league, especially when Shaq and Grant Hill are playing like they did in their more youthful days.
So, Mr. Nash, wake up, and will this team to wins like all Suns fans know you can.
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