Steve Nash, arguably one of the greatest players to ever play for the Phoenix Suns, may have played his last game Wednesday night for the franchise he has spent 10 of his 16 years in the NBA.
Nash played 18 minutes, made four of seven shots from the field and scored eight points, and dished out seven assists. He sat for much of the game, but Suns fans began chanting “We want Steve!” in the fourth quarter that forced Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry to bring his star point guard back on the court to take one final bow.
The two-time NBA MVP checked back in with just under four minutes remaining in a meaningless regular season game against the Spurs, a team that has tormented Nash and Co. for the past seven seasons. After a quick turnover and a few jogs up and down the court, Nash was taken out of the game for good at the 3:30 mark.
Nash is 38 years old and will become a free agent this summer. He has repeatedly said he’ll weigh all his options and Phoenix remains in the mix. However, given the state of the Suns and their rebuilding roster, it’s hard to image Nash passing up on an opportunity to play for a championship contender.
Nash feels he can still make a difference on the court. Even though his numbers this season are slightly below par (12.5 points, 10.7 assists), they still rank reasonably high for his position.
“I feel great especially considering the schedule this year,” Nash said after the Suns lost to the Spurs 110-106.
“I feel like if I can handle the schedule, the minutes, and all the responsibility I have with this team to make plays I feel like I can keep going for who knows. But definitely for three more years,” Nash said. “I feel really lucky and blessed to keep playing at a high level and distribute (the ball) to my teammates. I still love to compete. As you know, you can’t go back I might as well make the most of it.”
As he left the court, US Airways Arena gave him a standing ovation that is normally reserved for a player who is about to say goodbye. Nash slapped hands with teammates and got a big hug from Gentry.
As he walked to the locker room, he slapped hands and waved to his adoring fans who have stuck with him through thick and thin. But you can say Nash has done the say for them. He had a chance to leave last season or even this season, but he stayed loyal to the franchise who drafted him in 1996. He was true to his word when he said earlier in the season that he wanted to play this thing out and stay loyal to his “guys.”
The Suns made a push for the playoffs, but fell short after losing to Utah on Tuesday, giving the Jazz the final playoff spot. It was a minor miracle that the Suns were even in the playoff hunt given all the roster changes and the injuries the Suns have endured the past two seasons.
Unless Phoenix acquires a big-time free agent this summer, it is highly unlikely it will be a championship contender for next season. As Nash pointed out, he feels he could play three more seasons. It’s time he played those three seasons where he can contend for that elusive championship.