Perhaps the biggest story to come out of the preseason thus far has been the news regarding the future of Steve Nash. The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Thursday that Nash will miss the entire 2014-15 season due to a lingering back injury. Considering everything that Nash has accomplished throughout his 18-year career, the news left many disappointed, including former Dallas Mavericks teammate Dirk Nowitzki.
“He started off well in Los Angeles and then he broke the bone in his leg and kind of messed up his nerves so it’s been a tough couple of seasons for him at the end,” Nowitzki told Basketball Insiders. “I think he would have been fine if he wouldn’t have broken his leg, I think he could have still played at a high level because he’s so smart and he still moved okay, but once that happened it’s tough.”
Nash was traded to the Mavericks during the offseason in 1998 after his second season with the Phoenix Suns and was paired up with Nowitzki the next season during Dirk’s rookie year.
Nash and Nowitzki spent six seasons together in Dallas before Nash returned to Phoenix in 2004.
During their six-year run, the duo of Nash and Nowitzki led the Mavericks from being one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best. The two led the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals for just the second time in franchise history in 2003 and Nash earned his first of eight All-Star selections that season. The Mavericks went on to make the playoffs in four out of the six seasons they spent together.
Prior to his latest setback, Nash was attempting to come back for the final year of his three-year deal with the Lakers and perhaps the last of his Hall of Fame career. Nash’s journey was chronicled in a four-part series on Grantland, which showed the veteran going through the process of rehab and training on the court. During the series, Nash said he had doubts about if he’d ever return again and even compared his comeback attempt to the movie ‘Groundhog Day.’
“You work hard, you get in shape, you feel good and one little tweak or whatever in the game and you could not be back in another two or three weeks and that takes the fun out of it a little bit,” Nowitzki said on Nash’s latest setback.
Thursday’s news that Nash would miss the rest of season came about six months after Nash passed Mark Jackson for third on the all-time assists list. His 10,335 assists are now third all-time behind only Jason Kidd’s 12,091 and John Stockton’s 15,806.
“He had an unbelievable career, a guy from Canada a white guy with back-to-back MVP’s; a Hall-of-Famer,” Nowitzki said. “I told him I was proud of him, I was proud to be his teammate, proud to be my friend and he had a heck of a ride. That’s what I told him.”
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