I was still an undergrad, working at a Fry’s Electronics in Anaheim when the Lakers made this trade. With the Southern California heat beating down on me it was my turn to go outside and gather all the shopping carts so naturally I’ll check out if there was anything in the free agency front on my phone.
WHAT?! This is something I did on NBA Live as a kid. Steve Nash on the Lakers. I could not believe it.
During the 2011-2012 season, the Suns missed the playoffs going 33-33 in the lockout shortened season. The Lakers lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1. Both teams were in need of some change. Phoenix offloaded arguably their best player for the past 7 years to rebuild. Now Los Angeles finally had a legitimate offensive threat at the one spot. The Lakers had to give up draft picks. And they were able to use the trade exception they received from Lamar Odom going to Dallas to absorb Nash’s 3 year 27 million dollar deal.
This is great. Steve and Kobe and Metta and Pau and Andrew!
Steve Nash is one of the players I hated but respected because of his shiftiness and what he and his Phoenix Suns team did to the Lakers in the regular season and the 2006 and 2007 playoffs. I still fully believe that the 2006 MVP that Nash received should have gone to Kobe Bryant. His unpredictability, court vision, and passing ability was something I loved as a basketball fan and equally hated as a fan of his rival team. The previous season, Nash posted averages of 12.5 ppg and 10.7 assists on 53% shooting and 39% from three point range. Which in total were better than what the Lakers had to offer in previous years.
It was not until later it struck me that Nash was 38 and had a myriad of injury concerns.. And with the rush of excitement slowly leaving me from the initial announcement. It became a bit worrying that they gave 3 years to a man of his age. It reeked every bit of a win now move and I was okay with that. This was one of the two huge trades that the Lakers would make that summer. They were easily preseason favorites right behind Lebron James and the Miami Heat.
After having Chris Paul pried away from them, the Lakers finally had their point guard. Steve Nash said of Kobe Bryant prior to the season beginning “We thought we could help each other get there“. This was referring to the 6th ring for Kobe and the elusive 1st ring Nash never won. It was a time for excitement and it is a tragedy injuries kept this team from realizing their full potential.
As unfortunate as it is, fans never got to see the full Nash experiment come to fruition with the Lakers. It’s sadly just a part of the game. Game 2 of the 2012-2013 campaign, Nash and then-rookie Damian Lillard bumped knees which caused a non-displaced fracture in his leg. Initially supposed to miss 1 weeks time, Nash missed 7 weeks and the injuries piled on and on until he retired. Is it fair that fans put a lot of the blame on Steve Nash for getting hurt? No. Was this a swing for the fences move which ended up backfiring in the Front Office’s face? Kind of but I’m sure that if they would make this decision again if that injury never happened because no one will ever know how well this team could have functioned with a healthy Steve Nash.
Summer of 2012 was probably the last time it was really exciting to be a Laker fan. Looking back at it now, it’s a tale of two different eras. The past had Kobe with Pau, stability, and this idea that people can chase rings here. They’d contend if free agents can contribute to the cause. The present has the youth with all the potential in the world but with no stability. And that’s just how it goes.
Looking back it is hard to imagine what the Lakers would have been had Nash never been hurt or if Mike Brown never tried to install the Princeton Offense, or if Phil got hired, or if Dwight would play in the Pick and Roll, you get my point. I miss the excitement I had after initially reading the news of Nash joining the Lakers, even with that reality of his age and past injuries hitting me later. Maybe after a few years when the kids realize their potential the front office can pull off a crazy trade like they did 4 years ago.
Have a safe and Happy 4th of July, everyone.