By: Kayla Mortellaro
PHOENIX— Steve Nash changed the way the game of basketball was played. As a member of the Phoenix Suns, he was part of the seven seconds or less group that transcended the game of basketball.
Nash was always about team involvement, therefore it is no shock that he racked up 10,335 assists all-time (8.5 per game), good enough for third all-time in the NBA. He made everyone else around him better and never wanted the spotlight on himself.
Even on a day that is all about honoring him, he is forcing himself to soak in the moment and to enjoy the spotlight.
“This is a good opportunity to try and actually take something in my life,” Nash said before the halftime ceremony. “I downplay everything and deflect and have a hard time really kind of accepting, in some ways, my successes. I think I worked really hard at it and I should try and enjoy tonight. And I should enjoy what we did.”
Nash was drafted by then Suns General Manager, Jerry Colangelo, in 1996 with the 15th overall pick. His first stint in Phoenix lasted from 1996-1998 when he was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Nash made a return to Phoenix in 2004 in which he stayed until 2012.
“I knew it was a special place when I was drafted by the Suns,” Nash said. “What the organization means to the city and state, it’s a very special place to play basketball. And to come back, it was like coming home in a lot of ways.”
Nash’s legacy was cemented during his second stint with the team and where he truly became part of a storied history as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
During 2004-2012, Nash and the Suns made the playoffs five of the eight years. For those eight seasons with Nash at the helm, the Suns finished first, second, second, sixth, ninth, third, 10th, and 10th in the NBA Western Conference Division. He brought the team to the conference finals in 2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2009-2010.
Despite not winning it all, Nash is truly proud of the team accomplishments he was a part of and the lasting memories that he made with his teammates.
“It’s amazing to think what we did and obviously the goal is to win a championship and we didn’t do that, so there is kind of an asterisk there,” Nash said. “But at the same time, we changed the game in a way. People play that style of basketball throughout the league almost now. It was a special, special time because something was happening that we didn’t really know was happening at the time. People have stopped me all over the globe and said, ‘I loved watching you guys play on the Phoenix Suns.’ It’s not a championship but it’s incredibly rewarding to think we touched people in that way. A lot of great relationships and a lot of great memories.”
Nash remains incredibly humble to this day; hesitant to talk about himself. Yet, Nash’s individual accomplishments are something to boast about.
He was a two-time league MVP (2005 and 2006), an eight-time All-Star, and a five-time NBA assists leader. If the game was ever on the line- as a coach, fan or teammate, you wanted the ball in Nash’s hands. He operated as a great surgeon on the floor and was cool under pressure. After a 19-year career, Nash left the league as the all-time free throw percentage leader (90.43 percent made free throws) and he also is 10th all-time in three-pointers made (42.78 percent).
Even though an NBA championship banner is not hanging in the rafters at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Nash has an unique perspective on it all.
“Losing burns, but you roll the dice and play for everything,” Nash said. “And you lose and it burns forever but that’s what makes the game great. Not everyone can win. We weren’t able to win and that’s life but that’s what makes it beautiful. If everyone got the chance to win, what would winning mean?”
“I do take some pride in the fact that some people wanted to emulate the way we played, and I think there is nothing more gratifying for me, than the respect and acceptance of your peers, players, coaches, and fans that wanted to see that style of basketball. That’s the sincerest form of flattery.”
Nash joins Alvan Adams, Charles Barkley, Tom Chambers, Jerry Colangelo, Walter Davis, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Connie Hawkins, Kevin Johnson, John MacLeod, Dan Majerle, Joe Proski, Dick Van Arsdale, and Paul Westphal in the Suns Ring of Honor.
Congratulations Steve on becoming the 14th member of the Suns Ring of Honor. You are very deserving.