A time comes in the life of every professional athlete where the physical grind and mental toughness needed to attempt to compete at a level they once competed at with ease becomes extreme. This is the point where we find Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash.
The two-time NBA MVP (2005, 2006) reportedly received two epidural injections in his lower back and a cortisone shot in his right hip in an effort to be able to play in the Lakers’ game tomorrow night against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 3 of a series they trail two games to none. Nash appeared in 50 games for the Lakers during the 2012-2013 regular season — playing an average of 32.2 minutes per game — and tallying 12.7 points per game, 6.7 assists per game and 2.8 rebounds per game, all being lower than his career averages of 14.4 points per game, 8.5 assists per game and three rebounds per game.
Nash’s consistent injury issues throughout the regular season prevented him from making the type of impact promised to Lakers fans when he was signed to a 3-year $29.7 million dollar deal prior to the season — two years of which will be remaining after this season ends.
While Nash playing at 70% often is as good as many point guards in the NBA playing at 100%, the physical toll just lacing up the sneakers is causing him is becoming evident.
At 39, can Nash continue to expect to play even 50 games in the following two seasons for the Lakers? Will 32 games be all he misses should he return to Los Angeles for the 2013-2014 campaign? What if a career-ending injury finally occurs which will have repercussions after his playing days have well passed? Is a championship ring so important to his personal legacy that he’s willing to risk his own physical health in its pursuit?
These, obviously, are all questions that only Steve Nash knows the answers to. His body is his body. He knows his physical limits and what he’s willing to endure mentally in pursuit of the one thing he has yet to accomplish in his NBA career.
It’s easy for us from the outside looking in to say it, but it’s my opinion that he should walk away while he still can.
Being a first-ballot NBA Hall of Famer is almost as good as it gets — and sometimes, almost is good enough.