Nash to Lakers sparks uncertainty and anguish
In the summer of 2004, there were two premiere NBA free agents in the class: Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. The Phoenix Suns, who much like this summer had boatloads of cap room, had a decision to make about who to chase. Eventually, the front office geared their efforts toward Nash, the perennial All-Star who was being absurdly let go by the Dallas Mavericks.
Nash would go on to win back-to-back MVPs and revitalize a franchise in a way rarely seen before in the league. He guided the Suns to four straight playoff appearances (five out of eight total) and three trips to the Western Conference Finals, but never played in an NBA Finals.
His last appearance in the West Finals, a six game series loss to Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers, saw the Black Mamba explode for 37 points in the clincher.
Now, inexplicably, the backcourt duo will unite in Los Angeles, via a sign-and-trade deal that sent Nash to the purple and gold in exchange for multiple draft picks and 3.1 million dollars.
The sudden news brought on a wide range of emotions, from disappointment and shock to anger and heartbreak. For so long, Suns fans have clung to Nash as the reason for hope in a town that loves its basketball team, a team that has yet to win a title but has come so close so many times. Nash resembled a person we looked to when we needed to find loyalty, perseverance and dedication. He represented everything a franchise player should be — outstanding on the court, having a good rapport with the media and making good relations with the community.
Now, that all seems like a waste after hearing the reports that most fans wanted to believe were untrue, but alas they were not. The trade seems even more unlikely after numerous reports had Nash being dealt to the New York Knicks or signing with the Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat or Chicago Bulls.
Adding fuel to the fire is that the Suns’ front office, AKA “Sarverville”, dealt Nash to a division rival, and not just any division rival, but the one team that fans truly despise, led by the player that Suns fans despise in Bryant. Moreover, it hurts to look back on what Nash said about loyalty and the quote “I’ll never play for the Lakers” and realizing that he just turned himself into a bit of a hypocrite. Granted, somebody could look at this and say “well, he was traded. Its not like he signed there.” This is true, but what is also true is that he could’ve done right and told the Suns’ brass to send him elsewhere, like New York or Dallas, if they wanted to get something in return. And that is where I think it hurts the most.
Look, I know that basketball is a business, just like every other sport, and that Nash wants to win a title. After all, he is probably the one guy in the league who deserves a ring the most. He also wants to remain close to his kids and if Phoenix had nothing to offer money-wise and talent-wise, L.A. was probably his best choice to combine both of his wishes.
If you want to look at the real villain in this scenario, look no further than Sarverville’s namesake, Suns owner Robert Sarver. Long criticized for being a cheap skate, Sarver has let multiple talents leave for the sake of saving money i.e. Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson or has traded away potential and current talent for the sake of saving money i.e. Shawn Marion, Goran Dragic and draft picks that turned into the likes of Rajon Rondo, Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala. Not to mention the fact that Sarver and his front office turned right around and perhaps gave some of the worst contracts in history to the likes of Hakim Warrick, Hedo Turkoglu and Josh Childress (why is he still on this team anyway?! Amnesty his ass!).
But the bottom line is that Nash is now a Laker, teaming up in the backcourt with a guy, Bryant, who already has five championships and is probably a Top 5 player all time when everything is said and done. And, as much as it pains me to say it, the Lakers do have one more run in them, especially now that they have a legitimate point guard running the show.
I’m now going to cry myself to sleep.