Steve Nash will start his seventh-consecutive season with the Phoenix Suns just short of his 37th birthday. Clearly, it's safe to think his best days are behind him.
After Amar'e Stoudemire signed with the New York Knicks, Nash went to Twitter to congratulate him on his new contract and thank him for the years they played together. Amar'e responded "Thanks a lot 2time."
Nash has been called "Two-Time" by his Phoenix teammates since he won his second award. However, Nash, like many other players, would rather win a championship than individual accolades.
Unfortunately, the loss of Stoudemire and the NBA's changing balance of power may lead to Nash ending his career without a Finals appearance, much less a championship.
Whether or not he makes it, Nash will go down as one of the all-time greats for millions of fans spread throughout the globe, but, unlike many other greats, the world's appreciation for him won't be limited to his basketball skills.
Though his basketball skills are very impressive. In fact, at his age last season, there are very few players who can be held in the same regard.
He was the ninth-best 35-year-old, according to PER, last season joining the ranks of Hall-of-Fame players Karl Malone, David Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Jerry West, John Stockton, and Robert Parish. The only other non-HOF'er on the list is Gary Grant who played four games with Portland in 2000.
Amazingly, Nash's playoff success at 35 is even better. Though ranked 10th, the first seven players played no more than four games in the playoffs during their 35th year on this Earth. Nash's PER of 22.5 in 16 games, is comparable to David Robinson's 24.5 in 13 and Kareem's 22.8 in 16. Behind Nash, you'll find Malone and Stockton.
That's impressive to me.
Perhaps it's more impressive that the 35-year-old is still in the debate regarding who the best point guard in the NBA really is. Personally, based on my own per-minute formula, Nash is actually the best point guard in the league (and third-best player overall behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade).
Considering that the other players up for the title of "League's Best PG" are no older than 25, I'd think even being part of the debate is praise-worthy.
Again, as good as he is individually, Nash would rather have a ring.
Leading his team to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in six tries, Nash's current stint in Phoenix cannot be considered a failure though he, and most Phoenix fans, consider anything less than a championship just that.
Next year, when Nash hits the floor with a totally different team than his 2004 return to Phoenix, his abilities will be put to the test like no other season. Fortunately, Nash has never relied on youth or athleticism to get the job done.
Despite what seems like a million untimely turnovers throughout his career, Nash has a remarkable court presence and is a very intelligent player. He makes his team better through his selflessness, but can also contribute using his own skills.
Arguably one of the best shooters in league history, Nash shoots the ball very well and is excellent at creating his own shot boasting the lowest assisted-field goal percentage in the league at eleven percent.
Additionally, Two-Time, distributes the ball better than anyone in the league. His 11 assists-per-game this past season mark the fifth time he's averaged double-digit assists in his career with each of those years coming after he entered his thirties.
Nash may not be the best point guard in the league. He may not be the greatest ever. And Nash, most likely, won't win a title with the Phoenix Suns; but he can hold his head high and be proud of his career in Phoenix and Dallas.
A Nash-led offense has never ranked lower than fourth in offensive ratings and Nash-led teams have amassed 614 wins since he officially took over in Dallas during the 1998-1999 season. That total is only surpassed by the dynasties of San Antonio (663 wins, 4 championships) and Los Angeles (618 wins, 5 championships).
Dallas tallied 622 wins during that same span, with Nash accounting for 281 of them. In Phoenix, Nash was involved in 332 of the team's fourth-best win total of 572.
Nash has only missed the playoffs three times during his 14 seasons, with the latest lottery trip coming after Mike D'Antoni was fired, Terry Porter being hired, then fired, Alvin Gentry becoming the new head coach, Shaquille O'Neal clogging the Suns game, and Stoudemire missing 29 games during the regular season.
Since championships seem to define players, it's important to realize which teams have kept Nash from the Finals all of these years—the Spurs, the Lakers, and the Mavericks. That means he has lost to teams with a total of 12 Finals appearances and 9 titles.
In the end, although he may not go out a champ, he's certainly played like one.