Feb. 7 is a big day for Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash. The wily old point guard will lead his boys into battle against the Philadelphia 76ers, as the Lakers look to start a rare winning streak.
More importantly, Nash is celebrating his 40th birthday, per the Orange County Register's Bill Oram:
On 40th birthday, Steve Nash says, “It’s great being known for being old.“— Bill Oram (@bill_oram) February 7, 2014
Barring some unexpected comeback, Nash will be the first player and only to take the court in his 40s during the 2013-14 season. The league's second-oldest active player, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Derek Fisher, won't turn 40 until August.
In fact, only seven men have played an NBA season in their 40s in the past decade:
- Dikembe Mutombo (three seasons)
- Kevin Willis (three seasons)
- Charles Oakley
- Cliff Robinson
- Karl Malone
- Kurt Thomas
- Grant Hill
It should be noted that six of those seven players were traditional big men, with Hill the only guard on the list. Throughout history, it has been easier for bigs to play later in their careers, as they rely less on speed (which goes away with age) than size (which doesn't).
But Nash is no ordinary player; he is one of the greatest point guards of all time and a surefire Hall of Famer. Nash has made the All-Star Game eight times during his career—twice as a Dallas Maverick and six times as a Phoenix Sun.
In Phoenix, he teamed with coach Mike D'Antoni to orchestrate some of the most potent offenses in NBA history. His career reached its zenith from 2004 to 2006, when he won back-to-back MVP awards.
How rare is it for a 6'3" point guard to win MVP? Consider this: Only four players 6'3" or shorter have won the award since its inception in 1956—Nash, Allen Iverson (2000-01), Derrick Rose (2010-11) and Bob Cousy (1956-57). Nash is the only such player to win the award more than once.
Nash hasn't played much this season (or last season, for that matter) as he has struggled through the gauntlet of injuries one might expect of a NBA guard playing into his fifth decade.
Will he retire after this season? Before answering that question for yourself, you should heed the words of Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith: "If there is anything we've learned about Nash over the years it’s to never count him out and never to be surprised by anything he does.