Steve Nash wanted to win a championship ring. That’s the only thing left on his basketball resume. He’s won MVPs, he’s been an All-Star, and he recently became the fifth player in league history to reach the 10,000 assist mark.
During the past offseason, Nash had three options: 1) stay in Phoenix and head into retirement quietly; 2) move to Toronto and play for his beloved country; 3) move to Los Angeles and join forces with Kobe Bryant to play for a championship.
Or so he thought.
Nash considered a move north of the border last summer but eventually agreed to a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers, deciding to play for a team that appeared primed for a run at a title. Los Angeles is also a short flight away from Phoenix — where his three children live — and that helped sealed the deal.
Hollywood’s gain was Toronto’s loss.
“It was definitely a huge option for me especially if the Lakers situation didn’t happen,” Nash told the media Sunday after his Lakers fell to the Raptors, 108-103, dropping the team six games below .500. “The Lakers situation, basketball-wise, I think it was a good option … but most importantly, to be close to my kids and to be able to see them as much I have this year has been priceless.”
Canada’s best-known basketball export returning to his home country would have been a huge catch for Toronto. Adding a two-time league MVP would have given the Raptors a new face of the franchise and a boost at the box office. Nash is also the general manager of the men’s national team for Canada Basketball.
At 38, Nash is getting on in years but he’s in tremendous shape and is showing no signs of slowing down. But choosing L.A. over Toronto may have been a mistake. Nash should have signed with the Raptors. Closing out his playing days on this country’s lone NBA team would have been a nice way to cap an incredible career.
“It would have been great to come play here,” Nash said. “But for me, I get to see my kids all the time and I wouldn’t have got to do that if I had come to Toronto. So my quality of life has greatly improved by being close to my kids.”
Nash and Lakers have a lot of work to do this season. The Lakers are struggling under Mike D’Antoni and will need a big surge soon just to make it in the playoffs. The Lakers are basically right where the Raptors are in terms of overall record and standing. Nash is finding out that the bright lights in Hollywood can be extremely hot and every loss is considered catastrophic. The Raptors are familiar to losing, so the pressure to win doesn’t exist.
The Lakers have had three different head coaches this season. Injuries have been a problem. The roster is loaded with superstars like Nash, Bryant, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard but that hasn’t led to victories.
“I think that’s one of the things that I maybe didn’t expect is that this would be the most challenging year of my career in many ways,” Nash said. “But that’s great. I’m always up for a challenge. I think it keeps you engaged and it keeps you extremely motivated.
“Just fighting every day to try to turn this thing around.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.