"I think Magic Johnson has to be the greatest point guard. My favorite was Isiah Thomas, because I knew I was never going to be Magic, so I always tried to emulate Isiah," he said.
Nash is much closer to Thomas in size, so his admission that he "was never going to be Magic" likely has something to do with their significant difference in stature. Johnson was 6'9"—extremely tall for the point.
By the ends of their careers, guys like John Stockton and Jason Kidd wound up with more assists. However, there have been few triple-double threats like Johnson, who averaged 19.5 points, 11.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game over his career.
And more than any numbers could attest to, Johnson simply played the game with a style all his own, spearheading the Los Angeles Lakers' "Showtime" attack with an uptempo flair that didn't show up on the stat sheet.
The Hall of Famer spent 13 seasons in the NBA after being selected with the top overall pick in 1979.
Nash's career has taken a slightly different trajectory. The championships have been elusive, but the longevity and admiration have certainly been there. At times, you could certainly see influences of the Showtime Lakers in Nash's game.
Sidetracked by injury for much of the last two seasons, we haven't seen nearly enough of that game. Over the course of his iconic career, though, we've seen enough to know that Nash stacks up quite favorably with the very best.
Here's how he compares to the very best for Grantland's Bill Simmons:
I never saw Cousy and Oscar, obviously. I only caught the tail end of Frazier and the second (and inferior) incarnation of Tiny. I caught everything Magic and everything Isiah; they’re 1-2 on the “Best Point Guards I Ever Watched” list. After them, not counting current stars, it’s Stockton, Nash, Kidd and Payton in some order. Stockton submitted the most impressive start-to-finish career. Kidd and Payton were the most dominant two-way players. And Nash was the most skilled offensive player, a gifted playmaker who doubled as one of the most efficient shooters ever.
What's next for Nash remains a less settled question.
He has one more season on his contract with the Lakers, and all indications are that he's likely to play it out—and Los Angeles is likely to keep him. In some sense, there will be pressure on the 40-year-old to produce after two injury-marred seasons in purple and gold.
You'd have to believe Nash will call it quits after that, but there's also little doubt that there are better ways to go out than as a resented piece of a subpar club.
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