Steve Nash goes to Los Angeles: A five act tragedy

USA TODAY Sports

Steve Nash is one of the best point guards in NBA history, but his time in Los Angeles has been classically tragic.

The story of Steve Nash's time in Los Angeles, in five acts.

Exposition:

Steve Nash is a great man, and a great basketball player. After developing a special relationship with a fellow legend-to-be in Dallas, Nash moves to Phoenix and becomes one of the kings of NBA. Blessed with preternatural vision, an uncanny ability to see things before they happen, and a ruthlessly efficient ability to shoot the basketball, Nash builds a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest offensive basketball players in history.  Despite his advanced age, Nash has not failed to put up elite point guard performances in over a decade. Then, with his current franchise looking to re-build, he decides to take his talents to the game's biggest stage as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, joining Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol as members of the league's newest super-team.

Complication:

After a rocky preseason attempting to learn a new and superfluous offense, Nash attempts to disrupt the offensive flow of young rookie Damian Lillard, and Lillard accidentally makes seemingly innocuous contact with Nash's leg. Nash immediately feels pain, however, and is forced to limp off the court. It is the second official game of the season.

Crisis:

Nash is diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his left leg. He will miss at least a week. In that week, his back-up, Steve Blake, also goes down with a long term abdominal injury, and the head coach is fired. The position Steve Nash was brought in to solidify is now being manned by two of the worst point guards in the NBA until Nash can return. After the initial week, Nash is still in a great deal of pain, so his return date is pushed back another two weeks ... and then another two weeks ... and then another two weeks. All while his team suffers terribly at the hands of Chris Duhon and Darius Morris. In total, eight excruciating weeks pass before he is able to return to the court.

When Nash does return to the court, he is clearly not the same player. He cannot build a rapport with his teammates. He turns the ball over way more than he used to. He cannot create any space between himself and his defender, even when assisted by a screen, thus negating his ability to run the offensive set which has defined his career. There is still hope, because he has not fully recovered from his injury, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that he is not getting any better. As his team continues to lose, Nash is eventually stripped of his duties as the primary ball-handler in a desperate attempt by the Lakers to salvage their lost season, and transformed into the league's most expensive spot up shooter and defensive liability. Marginalized, Nash continues to do whatever he can to help the team, even in his limited state, and by adopting their Whatever-it-takes strategy, the Lakers make a surge towards the playoffs.

Catastrophe:

Even that small degree of happiness cannot last. Nash injures his hamstring at the end of March, and does not play again this season. He watches from the sidelines as Kobe Bryant succumbs to a devastating Achilles injury, watches his team back into the playoffs and then get swept easily away at the hands of a personally familiar nemesis, the San Antonio Spurs. In the final game, Nash's team is reduced to playing only three guards, only one of whom will even be in the NBA the following season. They are missing 3/5 of their starting lineup, and Dwight Howard will make it 4/5 by game's end with a needless ejection. The season ends the same way the season started: in a giant ball of flames.

In the off-season, Dwight Howard very publicly rejects the continuation of the Lakers' grand experiment, leaving the Lakers in a lurch with no real plan to pursue for the upcoming season. Meanwhile, Nash does everything he can to rest his body and prepare himself for the upcoming season. With seven months off, Nash is given all the time he needs to heal. The Lakers also take severe precautions to ensure the best possible environment for Nash to succeed. His minutes are limited more than they ever have been in his career. He is completely rested on the second night of back-to-backs.

The result: He looks awful. After seven months of rest, Nash somehow looks worse than he ever did the previous season. He can't move. He can't run. He can't pass. He can't shoot. He can't do anything remotely well. After just six games, he removes himself from the game in the 1st half of a contest and does not play the second, due to back pain. He sees a back specialist and is diagnosed with nerve root irritiation. Once one of the kings of the NBA, Nash is now an expensive liability to his team, unable to play in many games, and harming his team in the games he can play in.

Catharsis: TBD

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