Even Steve Nash is human.
But there were doubts at the same time.
Nash is 38 and has 16 years of wear and tear on his body. Though he has been able to elude Father Time and the decline in production and health that comes with him, his luck was bound to run out eventually.
Before his three-year, $27 million contract was up.
Which it did.
Nash got tangled up with Blazers point guard Damian Lillard and howled in pain. He's headed to the locker room now.— KEVIN DING (@KevinDing) November 1, 2012
Tragedy was averted, though, when he attempted to return.
It struck, however, when he wound up leaving the game early in the third quarter, unable to return.
Steve Nash injury update: contusion of the lower left leg. He will not return tonight.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 1, 2012
And it was then that reality began to sink in.
Nash, the poster-boy for durability, the floor general who missed just 12 games total over the past three regular seasons was susceptible to injury, vulnerable to the rigors of age.
Which leaves us to wonder if he will ever be able to reach the lofty ceiling that was set for him upon his arrival in Tinseltown.
It's a brash reality, to question one of the greatest playmakers in the game, an athlete who has proven to be one of the most reliable cornerstones of all-time. Yet it's a legitimate one nonetheless.
Because the Lakers—while star-pounding—are a fragile team.
Not only is Dwight Howard's back still a source of uncertainty, but at 34, Kobe Bryant is a magnet for injury, one who opts to play through them. Surely this will catch up with him at some point.
Now the Lakers have to worry about Nash, who they weren't worried about originally, but should have been worried about all along.
And if all of these mishaps, all off these health issues have surfaced this early, whose to say the Lakers won't be too battered or bruised to contend for a title this spring?
Just because Los Angeles is chock-full of flashy names and impressive résumés doesn't mean it's guaranteed to succeed. It has a bevy of obstacles to overcome first, none more important than its health.
Is the offense a mess?
To an extent, yes, but it's only a matter of time before Mike Brown comes to his senses and gives Nash the ball and the green light to do what he pleases.
But will he even be healthy enough to assume control of the rock, to take advantage of that green light?
That's the most pressing issue facing the Lakers, one that has been suppressed even amidst the uncertainty surrounding both Howard and Kobe. One that was overlooked in favor of what the team had on paper.
Will Howard's back hold up the entire season? Can Bryant continue to outrun the overwhelming list of injuries he has piled up over the years?
Those are the queries that have been pushed to the side. Those are the ones that became a near afterthought as the re-tooled Lakers prepared to chase a championship.
And they were ones that proved they could not be ignored any longer when Nash's shin forced him to the sidelines.
Chemistry isn't the primary concern. It will come—if the Lakers remain healthy enough.
This was never about Howard's ability to thrive within the Princeton offense, Kobe's ability to work off the ball more and Nash's ability to be effective without the ball in his hands.
Those aspects of the game, those potential weaknesses, those cracks in the foundation can be reevaluated, adjusted and subsequently resolved.
Los Angeles' fragile dynamic, the health bills of its cornerstones, the age of its key components—including Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison—though?
Not so much. That aspect of its dynamic is etched in stone.
So the Lakers aren't a bad team, they're not a shoddy convocation of superstars and their poor start to the season shouldn't worry us to the point of panic.
But their health, the durability of Bryant, Howard and now Nash should.
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