Nash is perhaps the most unlikely looking franchise player in NBA history – a 6-3, 195-pound guard who seems much shorter and slighter when mingling with the giants who usually dominate NBA games.
Nash is so slick that he makes us forget how good he is. It seems, for example, that a long time has passed since the Phoenix Suns were a threat in the West.
But it was only 2010 when Phoenix won 54 games and went to the Western Conference finals. The Suns actually swept the San Antonio Spurs in the second round before falling to the eventual champion Lakers in six games.
After that season, Amar’e Stoudemire left for New York, and the Suns – who went to the conference finals three times in six years but lost each time – were no longer a contender. But they still went 40-42 with Nash and a group of role players, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2011-12, they were 33-33.
Even though they were not at an elite level any longer, with Steve Nash in the lineup, the Suns were always trouble. They may not have been able to advance to the playoffs, but because of Steve Nash, they could be a pain. And they were not a team anyone wanted to meet in the playoffs … because they had Steve Nash.
In short, for the eight years when Steve Nash was in Phoenix, if he had help, the Suns were great. And if he didn’t, they were still competitive on any given night.
So it is stunning to go to a Phoenix Suns game and see no Nash in the lineup. There’s a Dragic, a Gortat, a Scola and a Telfair, but no star of the show. No captain. No sleight-of-hand. It’s like watching an episode of Seinfeld without Jerry.
Suns coach Alvin Gentry is diplomatic enough to not say the Suns have thrown together a ragtag group of guys and are hoping for the best. But he doesn’t avoid the truth.