Going into the 2012-2013 season, Steve Nash will no longer be a part of the Phoenix Suns. Nash will now be wearing the dreaded Gold and Purple jersey and will attempt to chase a ring, along with other stars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
But no matter what team he is on, Suns fans will forever be grateful for the dedication Nash gave to this team for ten seasons of his career. The Suns may not have won a title, but they had some good runs, some great moments, and Nash truly was the foundation of what has been an exciting and fun team to watch for the past decade.
It's hard to briefly describe Nash's skill set. He was outstanding in so many aspects of the game. However, his greatest strength is found in his ability as a play maker. Nash could take seemingly hopeless players and rejuvenate their careers. He could always find his teammates on the court and turn them into better players, and he was always a leader in the locker room.
To salute Nash's service to this team for the past several years, and also to reminisce about the great time we all had supporting him, here is a compilation of Nash's ten greatest assists as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
Calling this one of the best no-look passes of all time may be a bit of a stretch, but there is no doubt that this was a great play.
Despite how little room there was, Nash was able to get the ball to J-Rich without traveling out of bounds, and Richardson finished a great play. Nash opened up the paint by drawing the defense near him, and that made it easy for J-rich to get open on the baseline and finish the easy layup.
This video of Stoudemire's poster dunk on Jefferson may be showcasing Stoudemire's skills more than Nash's, but it still displays a great and effective use of the pick-and-roll, which Nash and STAT used so many time together.
Stoudemire comes to set the pick, Duncan shifts over to help defend Nash, and that leaves Nash with an easy bounce pass to Stoudemire who finished with a ferocious dunk. Those two ran that play several times per game when they were on the same team. This list wouldn't be complete without one of Nash's pick-and-roll passes.
Even with his great three-point shot, Channing Frye is a mediocre starter at best. But Steve Nash could often make the power forward seem like an all-star.
In this play, Frye didn't even move once he got to the three-point line. He stayed in the same spot the entire time, but Nash was still able to find him open behind the arc and dished out a great behind-the-back pass.
From there, all Frye had to do is shoot an open three, which is easily the biggest strength of his play. Three Oklahoma City defenders were so distracted by Nash and Stoudemire running the pick-and-roll that they left Frye wide open. It's just baffling how Nash even saw Frye when the two were nowhere near each other and didn't make any eye contact.
Not only was Steve Nash a great passer, but he was also an amazing shooter. He has shot above 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line multiple times in his career, making him one of the greatest shooters of all time—even if he wasn't scoring 20 points per game.
After Frye set the pick, Nash forced the two defenders over, who were trying to stop Nash from getting to the paint or finding an open shot.
However, they left Channing Frye wide open behind the three-point line, and Nash always knows where his teammates are on the court. By the time Frye caught the ball, it was already too late for any Pacer defenders to contest the shot. Frye is a streaky shooter, but when he gets a wide open shot like that, you can bet it's going in.
After Stoudemire left Phoenix, the Suns were left with a large hole down low. They tried to use guys like Hakim Warrick, Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye and Robin Lopez to replace Stoudemire, but none of those guys were really able to produce. After all, Nash may be one of the greatest passers in the history of the NBA, but he is mortal. He can't turn just anyone into a superstar.
Which is why last season and part of the year before, Marcin Gortat was a breath of fresh air for Phoenix. They found a real diamond in the rough in Gortat, someone who was able to both hit a jump shot and execute the pick-and-roll. The two together were reminiscent of Nash and Stoudemire.
Watch here as Nash makes a great pass in between Boozer's legs to set up Gortat for the dunk. Boozer tried to bring his hands down and snatch the ball, but his reactions were a fraction of a second too late.
There is no explanation for how Nash makes those passes, unless he has eyes in the back of his head. Nash never dribbles the ball for too long, but simply waits for the exact right moment to make the best pass available and find the open man.
When the defense didn't leave anyone open in this video, Nash drove in towards the paint, drew the defense close and then had full confidence in himself as he wrapped his arm around LaMarcus Aldridge and got the ball to STAT for the slam.
If there was something else Nash and the "Run and Gun" Phoenix Suns were known for, it was executing on the fast break. This team had incredibly fast players who could get down the court in a hurry and find an open position where Nash could get them the ball.
Though this pass isn't flashy or extremely exciting, Nash quickly gets down the court and bounces a pass past three defenders to Amar'e Stoudemire, who not only finished the dunk but also draws the foul.
Nash and Stoudemire always had such amazing chemistry together. Nash always knew where to pass the ball, and STAT always knew exactly where he had to be. Together, they made a deadly duo and had plenty of plays just like this one.
Once again, Nash makes another great no-look behind-the-back pass to find the open teammate; this time the beneficiary being J-Rich who caught the pass and finished the layup. Nash never made eye contact with Richardson, but must have seen him out of the corner of his eye and timed the pass perfectly. He drew in the defense by pretending to pull up for the shot, and the rest was easy for him once he had an open teammate.
Tim Thomas only played 26 games as a member of the Phoenix Suns, but that was enough time for him to see the benefit of having Nash as a teammate.
Thomas was trailing far behind the other players when Nash first received the ball. Thomas hustled down the court, and when he got there, there was a great behind-the-back pass waiting for him that set him up for an easy shot. Nash went right into the middle of the paint and distracted the Lakers defense, and what followed was almost a hand-off to Thomas for the score.
When making a flashy pass like that, it's all about timing or else your attempted pass could easily be picked off and become a turnover. Here, Nash gets the ball to Thomas at the perfect time, just as he always does.
Tim Duncan must have felt he was making the right decision originally with the help defense on Nash. After all, Duncan is over half a foot taller than Nash, and it didn't seem possible that Nash could have been plotting anything other than driving in for a layup. If that was true, Duncan could have easily blocked the shot.
But I'm sure Duncan never anticipated Nash completely wrapping his arm around him and getting the ball to a now-wide open Amar'e Stoudemire. In fact, Duncan doesn't even look like he understands what's going on here.
He spins around completely disoriented, and by the time he lifts his arm to try and contest the shot, Stoudemire is already in the air for the dunk. Nash really gave 110 percent every moment on the court that season and fought valiantly. It's a shame that playoff series ended the way it did.
Better luck in Los Angeles, Steve.
It takes a while to let this one completely soak in. On the fast break, Nash first fakes the pass to Grant Hill in the corner. The defense doesn't fall for the fake and prepares to contest Nash's layup attempt. But then, Nash doesn't make a layup attempt. He does an absolutely ridiculous over-the-shoulder no-look pass that actually goes to Hill this time, and Hill nails the three.
I've never even seen anything like that before. He is a master of the pick-and-roll and the behind-the-back pass, but here he just proves that nothing is outside the realm of possibility.
He can get the ball to any of his teammates anywhere on the court and use just about any trick: between the legs, behind the back or over the shoulder. Grant Hill may not be the greatest three-point shooter, but with the amount of space he has here, just about anyone on the team could have nailed that shot.