Last Saturday, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash officially announced his retirement after an incredible 18-year career in the league. Plagued by injuries over the last three seasons, Nash could never really recover from breaking his leg in only his second game for the Lakers in 2012. In the end, he made a total of 65 appearances in three seasons in Los Angeles, which he called “a huge disappointment”.
However, Steve Nash leaves the game with a legacy as being one of the most offensively efficient players the NBA has ever seen. An eight-time All-Star, Nash was arguably the most exciting distributor and most efficient shooter of his generation – and perhaps in the history of the NBA.
If we think of Nash, we think of his fancy no-look passing or his ability to find the open man in the half-court offense which made him one of the best passing point guards in history. Nash finished his career ranked third all-time in assists with 10,335, behind only John Stockton and Jason Kidd. For seven seasons, the Canadian floor general finished with a 10-plus assist average. Magic Johnson (9) and Stockton (10) are the only players who broke double-digits per game in more seasons.
It is safe to say Nash was a prolific shooter. It is easy to forget how good of a shooter he really was. He is one of the only two players in NBA history with more than one 50-40-90 season (50% from the field, 40% from downtown, and 90% from the free-throw line), the other being the legendary shooter Larry Bird. As a matter of fact, Nash completed the feat on four different occasions, Bird only during two seasons. His average career 3-point percentage is 42.8 per cent, which ranks him ninth all-time.
Good shooters usually excel at the charity stripe, and nobody ever did it better than Steve Nash. You read it right, Nash retires from the game as the all-time leader in free-throw percentage with an insane 90.4. Nash was not only an efficient shooter from deep or the free-throw line. If defenders left him open, he would shoot a mid-range jumper with such efficiency, it was not called a bad shot when he had the ball in his hands. Nash’s career average field goal percentage from mid-range is 48.4. The numbers don’t lie. Nash was not only the best point guard of his generation, but one of the greatest of all time.
The great shooter that he was, Nash would rather distribute than fill up the stat sheet. A consummate teammate, throwing high-fives around after every play, he wanted his teammates to feel good. That is perhaps what made him so special.
Nash was drafted by the Suns in 1996, but was on the wrong side of the picking order, behind Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. After two years, he was traded and spent the next six years in Dallas, where he became an All-Star. Together with Dirk Nowitzki, he took Dallas to the play-offs for the first time in a decade.
Nash went back to the Phoenix Suns, where he had his most memorable years. Under coach D’Antoni, he became the orchestrator of one of the most dynamic and efficient offensive teams in history. They invented a new type of up-and-down basketball, and came to be known as the ‘seven seconds or less Suns’. Although exciting, fast-paced, and entertaining, the Suns never made it through to the NBA Finals. They were offensively very efficient (they were rated No.1 offensively for six consecutive years), but somehow they were never able to get over the hump.
Either way, retiring at the age of 41, Nash leaves a legacy the likes of which only a small number of players can claim. Nash himself, however, has always stayed humble. He will be remembered for his elegance, grace, toughness and composure on the floor. Off the floor, he always remained that relaxed, regular Western Canadian kid, whose hard work and perseverance made him into one of the greatest players in basketball history.