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. (more…)