Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash is one of the good guys in professional sports. Since his days at Santa Clara, there has always been something special about the way Nash played the game of basketball.
And now that his career could very well be over after yet another injury, Nash sent out an open letter to Lakers fans via Facebook.
I definitely don’t want to be a distraction, but I felt it best everyone heard from me in my own words.
I have a ton of miles on my back. Three buldging disks (a tear in one), stenosis of the nerve route and spondylolisthesis. I suffer from sciatica and after games I often can’t sit in the car on the drive home, which has made for some interesting rides. Most nights I’m bothered by severe cramping in both calves while I sleep, a result of the same damn nerve routes, and the list goes on somewhat comically. That’s what you deserve for playing over 1,300 NBA games. By no means do I tell you this for sympathy – especially since I see these ailments as badges of honor – but maybe I can bring some clarity.
I’ve always been one of the hardest workers in the game and I say that at the risk of what it assumes. The past 2 years I’ve worked like a dog to not only overcome these setbacks but to find the form that could lift up and inspire the fans in LA as my last chapter. Obviously it’s been a disaster on both fronts but I’ve never worked harder, sacrificed more or faced such a difficult challenge mentally and emotionally.
I understand why some fans are disappointed. I haven’t been able to play a lot of games or at the level we all wanted. Unfortunately that’s a part of pro sports that happens every year on every team. I wish desperately it was different. I want to play more than anything in the world. I’ve lost an incredible amount of sleep over this disappointment.
Competitiveness, professionalism, naiveté and hope that at some point I’d turn a corner has kept me fighting to get back. As our legendary trainer Gary Vitti, who is a close friend, told me, ‘You’re the last to know’ – and my back has shown me the forecast over the past 18-20 months. To ignore it any longer is irresponsible. But that doesn’t mean that life stops.
This may be hard for people to understand unless you’ve played NBA basketball, but there is an incredible difference between this game and swinging a golf club, hiking, even hitting a tennis ball or playing basketball at the park. Fortunately those other activities aren’t debilitating, but playing an NBA game usually puts me out a couple of weeks. Once you’re asked to accelerate and decelerate with Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving it is a completely different demand.
I’m doing what I’ve always done which is share a bit of my off-court life in the same way everyone else does. Going forward I hope we all can refocus our energies on getting behind these Lakers. This team will be back and Staples will be rocking.
Rarely do you see an athlete or anyone in the public light open up like this. While Nash did stop short of announcing his retirement, he did give fans an understanding of what a day is like for someone who has played 1,300 NBA games and is not in the best physical condition as a result.
It’s a testament to Nash that he would make sure the fans know what he is going through while the fans themselves are dealing with a Lakers team that’s nowhere near the level they expect it to be.
Nash is also sending a clear message to critics who have questioned why he still plays golf while being sidelined to an injury. Those critics, however ignorant they may be, have been widespread in recent weeks.
It remains to be seen if Nash will call it quits after 18 seasons, but let’s hope that’s the decision he makes. There is no reason for a 40-year-old man to hang on to the past while impacting his quality of life moving forward.