From the title, you’ve already come to one of a few assumptions: a) this guy is completely nuts; since when is Phoenix even worse than the Clippers, Kings, or Bobcats? b) this is going to be yet another in a long list of articles trashing Nash, or c) why am I even bothering to read a piece written by another ranting hater?
Let me assure you, A and B are completely false. C is kinda 50/50. I am not particularly fond of the Suns (nor their unjustly arrogant fans), but as you’re about to find out, this article is no more a rant then Steve Nash is an NBA Champion.
Okay cheap shot, but now I’ve got it out of my system. I promise.
Let's backtrack to the so called “glory days of Phoenix”. Steve Nash had been named MVP for two consecutive years (2004-05, 2005-06). The first of the two awards came during the same season in which the Suns made their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 1993.
However, true to their nature, the Suns fell. The Spurs made quick work of them, dismissing the Suns from the post-season in a dominating 4-1 series victory. The next year, the Suns came into the playoffs as the No. 2-ranked seed in the West and once again made it to the Western Conference Finals.
Even though the Suns struggled to get past both the rebuilding Lakers and the over-achieving Clippers, with the league’s “most valuable player” still running their show, they would surely be able to avoid another letdown at the same stage where they failed last year…right?
Wrong. The Suns were once again overmatched and fell 4-2. Yet another NBA season saw the Suns fall short of claiming what many people had falsely believed was theirs for the taking all season long: the NBA title.
By now you’re probably asking how making the Western Conference finals two consecutive years qualifies you for being the “league’s worst team.” Now allow me to clear up any possible misconceptions in the message of this article: when it comes to raw talent, the Suns are NOT the NBA’s worst team.
They aren’t even close.
Steve Nash is one of the better point guards we’ve seen over the last several years. Period.
He alone can make most teams legitimate playoff contenders. The problem is: that’s all. In most scenarios, mere playoff contention is where Steve Nash’s value begins and ends, even when surrounded by quality players.
While it is obvious that the league bestowed Nash with the MVP because he was the best player on what they felt was the best team, the so called “ultimate team player” showed time and time again why even with a pretty good supporting cast, neither he nor any team he played for was to be fully trusted.
The irony is that the Suns’ own absurdly out-of-place mascot showcased the one thing lacking from their team and also the one universal trait of champions everywhere: the ability to put on a gorilla suit.
For those unfamiliar with the expression, “putting on a gorilla suit” means to get tough, it means to be fierce, at times even to be dirty (well, okay, Raja Bell understood that last part).
Therein laid the problem. Nash has no ferocity, nothing resembling a killer instinct, and zero grit. As a consequence, the team which was built largely around him was soft as well.
That’s why the Spurs (a team not particularly known for their physicality) manhandled the Suns throughout their 4-1 series beatdown.
Now are the Suns the first offensively based finesse team to lose a playoff series to a team of greater physical prowess?
How about those Los Angeles Lakers?
Remember when they cruised through the playoffs, up until the finals, having lost only 3 games and had their terrific playoff run capped off by a five-game dismissal of the then-World Champion Spurs?
They accomplished all of that, only to be pushed and shoved around throughout the entire Finals series. They were out-rebounded and incapable of stopping the Celtics' inside (and outside) scoring.
They even seemed intimidated, which showed through their uncharacteristically poor free throw shooting.
How did the Lakers rebound? Oh that’s right, they traded one of their core players to acquire an old fossil who completely contradicts their style of play. No…wait….that’s another team.
Okay, now I remember. What the Lakers did didn’t include any desperation trades, nor did it include going into the next season exactly the same way they were the previous one. They simply got it.
They looked at the game tape, and realized the obvious the reason why they aren’t NBA champions today and then (gasp) they made adjustments. Mental ones, not just roster ones.
And although this current NBA season is far from over, because of these adjustments, the Lakers have never looked stronger heading into the playoffs than they do now. Not in any of their three-peat years. Not in the Magic Johnson/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar era. Never.
That’s why the Suns are the worst team in the NBA, not because of their talent, but because of their refusal to adjust. By the time they finally realized that they needed to, they were a day late and more than a few dollars short.
Someone please tell Steve Kerr that finally strengthening a weakness at the cost of almost all your strengths won’t make your situation better.
What if Superman traded his weakness to kryptonite for his invulnerability, his super speed, heat vision, and super strength? Well then you’ve got yourself a human X-ray. Great.
It’s almost sad. Virtually no other NBA team has had the regular season success the Suns have enjoyed over the last five years and so completely failed to capitalize on it.
If you look back over the last five years, the league’s other consistent teams have been the Spurs, the Pistons, the Mavericks, and the Heat. (Well, at least the Heat were before last year’s god-awful slump).
I mean yes, Dwyane Wade was injured, yes, Shaq was traded, even though he was traded very late in the season, yes, the team suffered through other injuries, but hot damn. The New England Patriots won more games than the Heat did last year. Anyway, I digress.
Now back to the point. Of those four teams, three of them have won championships and all of them have at least been to the finals once over the last five years. The Suns have done neither.
All they have to speak for them are their admittedly impressive recent win-loss totals in the NBA’s final standings and the MVP awards given to…I mean earned by Steve Nash.
Now their window of opportunity is all but closed, bolted and superglued shut.
Even if the Suns actually do make the playoffs this year, they'll have nothing but a first-round elimination waiting for them.
To my readers, I apologize. I broke my promise. I took a few more shots at Steve Nash than I intended to. He really is a good player. Unfortunately for him, you can put a cherry on a mound of dung, but it won’t be enough to make it a birthday cake.
The truth is I do feel a sense of sorrow for Nash. His team may just be the best ever at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and its really not all his fault.
Maybe he’ll eventually find a team with a strong enough cast to provide all the necessary physicality, so all he’ll need to bring is his finesse. After all, I’d be lying if I said the thought of him somehow arriving in Philadelphia doesn’t make me smile a little.
Look at 76ers, they can bang and play defense with the best of them. Their problem is I’m about as good as any scorer they’ve got (outside of the two Andre’s).
Even if it meant sending Miller to the bench, this team is in desperate need of a solid offensive catalyst like Nash. Unfortunately, the Sixers aren’t the best at adjusting either.
But that’s another story.