Tribute to Steve Nash: Dallas remembers

What came as no surprise to any basketball fan, Steve Nash officially announced his retirement from the NBA Saturday March 21, 2015. After 19 seasons, 7 All-NBA selections, 8 All-Star appearances and 2 time recipient of the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, the beloved Canadian finally decided to hang up his sneakers and put an end to his illustrious career.

Steve Nash had his most individual success and accomplishments as a member of the Phoenix Suns,being named the league MVP back-to-back seasons but it was his six seasons with the Dallas Mavericks that allowed him to show the world how much of a magician he is with a basketball in his hands. When he was first traded to Dallas in 1998 and introduced at the same time as the Mavericks drafted Dirk Nowitzki, there was a high level skepticism from the fan base if the duo of Nash and Nowitzki would be able to give the city of Dallas basketball life it hadn’t experienced since the 80s.

A pair of bad haircuts to go along with a sub-par 1998-1999 campaign had fans booing Nash and questioning team management on their decision to make this player their point guard of the future. The end of the 1999-2000 season began to show promise and hope as Nowitzki was blossoming and Nash came on strong towards the second of the season with six double-doubles in the last month of play.

The 2000-2001 season was a breakout season for Steve Nash as he averaged 15.6 points and 7.3 assists per game and it helped propel the Mavericks to earning a playoff berth for the first time in over a decade. This author still remembers that first round playoff series against the Utah Jazz being down 0-2 only to come back to win three games in a row and the series 3-2. It was a beautiful moment as you could see what the future could be with Nowitzki and Nash growing together and Michael Finley heading the dynamic trio being the oldest of the three.

The following season Nash would be named to his first All-Star game and also earn a spot on the All-NBA third team. It was a memorable run for Nash and the Mavs as he was amazing to watch orchestrate the offense with beautiful crisp passes and the ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor. The pick and roll with Dirk was truly something to watch and if you had a kid or nephew/niece growing up and they had never seen a basketball game in your life, those Mavs teams with Nash at point guard would have been at the top of their list. The offense was elite and those games were fun to watch because it reminded you of a pick up game you and you friends would go out to the blacktop and play on a nice Saturday afternoon. It was high scoring and plainly simple just fun to watch.

Unfortunately the Mavericks wouldn’t win a championship during Nash’s time in Dallas although they came close in 2002-2003 season where if it wasn’t for an injury to Dirk Nowitzki in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs there may have been another banner hanging in the rafters at the AAC. Nonetheless Nash would end up leaving in the summer of 2004 after he and Mark Cuban were unable to come to an agreement on a new long-term deal. What happened in the following years is well-known as the Mavericks would make two trips to the finals, 2006 and 2011, eventually winning the title in 2011 while Steve Nash went on to win two MVP’s with the Phoenix Suns and making it as far as the Western Conference Finals on two separate occasions with Phoenix.

So why does this author have such admiration and respect for the former Mavs point guard? Well it starts with what he did on the court as mentioned above and helping to turn a franchise that was in the basement of the NBA during the 90s into the elite franchises in the NBA throughout the 2000s and even to this present day. There also wasn’t a reason to not like and cheer for a player like Steve Nash who showed a great amount of humility and work ethic no matter what team he was on.

Perhaps the biggest reason I continued to root for Nash after he left Dallas was because of his well-documented friendship with Mavs legend, Dirk Nowitzki. Nash and Nowitzki joined the Mavs at the same time and neither supported the look of an NBA All-Star and were huge underdogs in eyes of many basketball fans. They both had rocky starts early on in Dallas but they grew together and helped make each other better. They lived in the same apartment complex and challenged each other to friendly duels of one-on-one and H.O.R.S.E. His comments on Dirk and his time of Dallas in his farewell letter says it all.

“I remember when Dirk and I were nobodies. He used to say over dinner sometimes, “How are us two stiffs gonna make it in this league?” Somehow we made something of ourselves. After all the wins and all the great times we’ve had around the world together, what really means the most to me are the late nights early in our careers when we’d go back to the Landry Center in Dallas, to play a few more games of HORSE and one-on-one. Dirk and the great city of Dallas got their championship, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

Michael Finley was twice an All-Star in his prime, when Dirk and I were young guys on the Mavs. Michael never played in another All-Star Game, but our team went from last place to the Conference Finals under his watch. Do you know how rare that unselfishness is in our game? A true friend and teammate.”

Steve Nash was on of those underdog players we could all root for and his friendship with Dirk was one in which we all wish we had or if we already did made us understand theirs even more. It’s a shame that Steve Nash didn’t win a ring or even better with Dirk and Finley on the Mavs, but he had a great career and his departure forced Nowitzki to grow into the player he is today. Nowitzki learned how to be a leader and demand the ball when it was crunch time and it made him a better player.

Although Steve Nash will best be known for his time in Phoenix, it’s important to remember what he helped bring to the city of Dallas. Thank you Nash, Dallas remembers. Mavs fan for life.

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