The final minutes of Steve Nash's hall of fame career aren't what you'd expect from a legendary floor general. He didn't go out on top, it wasn't a perfect moment like Derek Jeter's goodbye, and few people even witnessed it. A quiet night in Ontario, California on October 12 made for the backdrop of Nash's goodbye to basketball.
Preseason basketball rarely draws any attention, but Lakers fans were more tuned in with Kobe Bryant making his return and Julius Randle making his debut. If you dug deep enough through the headlines that surrounded the Lakers heading into the season, you'd find the little bit Nash had left to give. Two games. 32.5 minutes total. That's all one of the most dangerous men to ever dribble a basketball was allowed in his swansong.
It speaks to what Nash had become to the Lakers when I say without any hesitation my attention was elsewhere while I watched the Lakers and Nuggets take the floor in my hometown. It was all about seeing what Julius Randle could bring to the table after watching him throughout Las Vegas Summer League, mostly. Every time he touched the ball it was a test for him, and a chance for me to see what the Lakers future may hold.
Meanwhile, a ghost was saying goodbye without anyone knowing it.
I can't tell you about the three points and one assist he ended the night with -- I can't remember any of them. What I'll share from having the rare opportunity of being in the presence of Nash's final trip to the hardwood is the lone moment that's always stood out to me from that night in Ontario. The game had ended and media was in the green room packing up, networking and grabbing a few snacks before hitting the road. From the corner of my eye I catch Steve Nash walking into the room. He pops a quick joke and the room pops, has a wide smile spread across his face while he makes both tea and small talk, and walks out leaving everyone painted with the same expression.
It was juxtaposing to see Nash stroll in and out so carelessly on a night he had to ask out after the first quarter. Byron Scott wouldn't comment on Nash's health, directing reporters to ask Steve about it personally, but there he was. Casually roaming about the hallways on a night he wasn't even available to the media after the game.
Walking out of the arena, Steve was on the side of the hallway chatting it up, sipping his tea and enjoying what looked like a life he was ready for off the court. The end was already there and embraced, it was just a matter of how and when.
Steve Nash was never the savior the Lakers dreamed of when they landed him. The fate of the Lakers' 2015 first-round draft pick is one of the final artifacts remaining of the failed Dwight Howard acquisition, and that's something that'll be on fans minds for a few more years. We don't remember Hakeem Olajuwon's season on the Raptors, though, and when we travel down our lives a bit longer we won't remember Steve Nash on the Lakers either. He was never here, a coyote that will forever run through the deserts in Phoenix. So long.