Sun is setting on Nash, Phoenix’s Title Chances


By Paul M. Banks

PHOENIX, AZ- Watching Steve Nash operate the Phoenix Suns’ offense these past few years has been transcendence. I’m not saying they’re the best team to not win a title this decade, but they are likely the most entertaining team not to win it all. If there was a song about watching the Phoenix half-court set in motion it might be Outkast: “I like the way you move, do-de-do. I like the way you move, do-de-do”

And that’s why it’s a little sad: realizing their best days are now behind them, and they don’t even have a Finals appearance to show for it.

I said back in 2007 that the second round playoff match-up between Phoenix and San Antonio was the actual NBA Finals, and that the winner of that series would eventually take the big prize. And what a travesty that questionable calls,  capricious rulings and playoff games officiated by none other than the scourge of all NBA scourges Tim Donaghy sealed the Suns fate.

’07, the year Nash ironically didn’t win the MVP, was his best overall season, and also when the Suns reached the highest point in the NBA sky. It’s a crying shame they didn’t get to hoist the trophy in June. Of course, to say the Suns got screwed by arbitrary, subjective -you could even say shady- rulings doesn’t tell the entire story. 

Nash’s greatness is/was more dependent on the recognition and manipulation of illegal screens than any other All-Star this decade. And the hand-checking rule changes opened the door to his back-toback MVP awards. So karma has worked both ways in the Valley of the Sun.

Later, when Shaq was acquired, it seemed like everyone in the organization knew the window was about to close. Like Cleveland reminded us this past offseason, when you’re on your last chance to win a title, that’s what you do: acquire Shaq. It’s a natural course of action, like applying to the University of Phoenixor Arizona St. University when you know most colleges won’t accept you. It just makes sense. 

Still, when the Suns got off to that scorching hot start in November, I thought this could be the year. And I still believe that the winner of the Suns-Jazz playoff series this season, (should both teams stay in the current positions #4 vs. #5) might upset the Lakers in round two and blow the whole “May Madness” wide open.

But if Phoenix doesn’t rise up this year, I don’t think it’ll ever happen. Because age, and the wear-and-tear that comes with it are catching up to their most important player: Steve Nash. Read the quotes in this piece or watch the video below. The nagging injuries, the back and abdominal strains Nash suffers from is reminding us that his prime isn’t going to last much longer.

Nash is one of those players who REALLY deserves a title. He’s on pace to finish this season with 50% fg, 40% 3pt fg, 90 ft% for the fourth time. He’s the only player in NBA history to put up a 50-40-90 in 3 different seasons.

Larry Bird is the only other guy in history ever to do it twice. Sure, the seven time All-Star is a defensive liability, but he’s leading the league in assists again, just like he has done four of the last six seasons. And in Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball”, the author who knows/cares more about the NBA than any healthy, sane human being ever should ranks Nash as the 38th best player in the history of the league.

Whether “Nash-ville” has a ticker tape parade party or not this year…it’s been a blast watching this team do their thing.

 And I Thought I’d include this video,  just for old time’s sake. “No one touches the Shaqtus.”

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