Sports Out West

Steve Nash’s assist numbers are a testament to his dedication

Steve Nash

LOS ANGELES — It was a historic night where Steve Nash passed Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson for third on the NBA’s all-time assists, only trailing John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091).

But it was also an evening that seemed to bring a positive feeling to the Los Angeles Lakers’ worst defensive performance of the season that has been full of disappointment. The 40-year-old on Tuesday willed himself through another setback as he experienced nerve irritation in his left hamstring to pass the assist mark.

“It’s incredible to be sharing that part of the assist ladder with some players I really looked up to and tried to emulate,” Nash said. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be in that rare air, and I owe a lot of all the teammates and coaches that helped me get there.”

Nash added:

“It was a relief. To be honest, I kind of wanted to get out of the way because I didn’t want everybody hanging over my head or my teammates’ head, and to become all about me. It was nice to get it done.”

He was able to accomplish that historic feat but at the cost of his body, as his season may have come to an end as he will see how his body responds over the next couple of days to truly gauge where his health is at this point in time.

“We’ll see,” Nash said. “I could feel great tomorrow and recovery but that is typically know about the way it went down tonight. It’s probably not something that is going to happen in the (next) two or three days, but we’ll see maybe with a bit of luck it will. Hopefully this is something I can work through quickly. If I can recover enough, I’d love to play again. But I’m highly doubtful.”

This accomplishment puts a positive cap on what has been a tumultuous first two seasons with the Lakers for Nash, especially this year as Tuesday’s game marked just the 14th game he played due to the nerve irritation in his back and left leg that have limited his ability to stay healthy. The fact that he achieved a milestone on essentially one leg is a testament to the type of player he has been over his career.

“What is remarkable is that he can run a team even on one leg and keep us in the game,” Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know and I don’t want to speak for him and I’m definitely not going to anticipate anything, but he’s been really good for a long time.”

“It’s too bad everything comes to an end. He’s had a great career, and it was great he got that tonight.”

Similar sentiments about Nash were echoed throughout the Lakers’ locker room after the game.

“It’s incredible. His body of work throughout his career is amazing,” Jordan Farmar said. “It speaks for itself. Statistically, he’s the best shooter of all time, and I tell him that every day. Every time he takes a shot I tell him that he’s the best shooter of all time. He laughs and kind of chuckles, but it’s true. He ‘s had an amazing career, and I’m just fortunate to have been around him.”

For Nick Young, who is playing with Nash for the first time in his career this season, he has a greater respect for the 40-year-old’s hard work and dedication as he has continued to fight through the injuries to get back on the court to play the game he loves.

“It’s big. At that age, you could pretty much chalk it up, but he’s down here, he is in the weight roo0m every day getting treatment,” Young said. “It’s well-deserved. Good things happen to good people.”

As Tuesday night was another major achievement added to Nash’s illustrious 18-year career, it was also a reminder that his window to continue to play is quickly closing on him due to his steadily declining health. 

The fact remains that he has one year left on the three-year, $27 million deal he signed with the Lakers in July 2012, which will likely be his last season in 2014-15 before he retires. But with that said, Nash is still holding on the little bit he has left to continue to go out there and play the game he loves.

“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” Nash said. “As a kid, I was trying to get a scholarship to come down and play Division I basketball, and I was lucky enough to have one offer and took it. Dreams come true, I guess. I’ve been a lucky guy to play a long time, and enjoy the game that I love.”

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia is a sports journalist from Southern California. He was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.