Steve Nash is a magician

>> Monday

I swear (fingers crossed, just in case) that this is my last (probably) post about Steve Nash and his general overratedness (but to be fair, he is really overrated). But seriously, the dude deserves the title of escape artist for squirming out of the "Can't Win When It Matters" shackles.

This is the shame of David Stern's suspensions. The headline across ESPN after San Antonio won was something along the lines of SPURS WIN* (not that they're trying to influence public opinion or anything). The Spurs won...kinda...there are a lot of what-ifs...the Suns could have (should have?) won.

Where are the questions of whether Steve Nash can ever get to the championship? Where are the columns suggesting that maybe it's not possible to win a championship with absolutely no defense? Where is any criticism of the Suns?

Lost in a pile of what-ifs.

Of course, we can't blame Mr. No-Rings-but-plenty-of-MVPs for how the series played out. It's not like he's actively suggesting that the series should have an asterisk.

"I can sit up here and complain about it after the fact... I guess cry about it after the fact,"

But, of course, you're not going to, right?

"But it's tough not to just think forever what would have happened if this stupid rule didn't get in the way of this series. There's no guarantees of anything, but to come this far and put this much into a season and for us to be without two key guys for Game 5 for nothing we instigated -- and for not either one of them having a malicious tone in their offense -- will forever haunt us."

Wow. That sounds a lot like crying after the fact.

"But I don't want to cry about it after the fact. The Spurs played great."

Let's review: I don't want to cry after the fact --> waaaaaaaaaah, we got screwed! waaaaaaaaah! --> seriously, I'm not going to cry after the fact

Not that I can really blame Nash for playing this up. I too would be trying to distract people from the fact that once again you have fallen short of the NBA Finals. I too would want to pawn the Game 5 loss off on the easy suspension excuse before people looked at the box score and realized that you were 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter of that game (including a ridiculously bad final attempt with plenty of ticks left on the clock).

Look, it was a bad break for the Suns, no doubt. But to question the legitimacy of the series is stupid, because it ignores so many other factors.

First, the Suns (not Horry) initiated the brief scuffle. All Horry did was give a hard foul, one that he said he would do again if in the same situation. Hard fouls happen all the time in playoff basketball, and are usually met with some words and glares from the opposing team. But when you race at a guy with your fists clenched like a drunken frat boy, you are raising it to a new level. Did Stoudamire and Diaw have ill intent when they came off the bench? It certainly didn't appear so. They looked to be taking preventive roles. But if the on-court Suns had not raised the level to where something needed to be prevented, none of this would have happened.

Second, I don't want to hear this bullshit about "If Amare Stoudamire had played, the Suns would have won game 5. Period. No argument." If the hip check incident had not happened, or had the incendiary suspensions not been handed out, game 5 is a completely different game.

(Warning: tangent) This is something that has always bugged me about post-game analysis in general. The idea that the addition of a injured/suspended star into a game would simply add a certain amount of points to that teams total. You can't say (so-and-so injured superstar) would have made that catch/shot/pass/goal/etc. if he had played, because that player would have been treated differently by the defense than his replacement. The entire strategy of a game changes entirely when you take out a key element like Amare Stoudamire. To assume that the insertion of a star player automatically guarantees you positive results is absurd. Just ask the Rockets or Nuggets.

Would the Suns have stood a better chance with Stoudamire? Certainly. Would they have won the game? Don't know. But guess what? They had every chance to win the game without him. I know, I know, they were tired and worn too thin because they only had six players. I'm not buying that excuse because these are professional athletes, and these are the playoffs. Endurance should not be much of an issue, at least not so much of an issue that you blow an 8-point lead in five minutes. Remember, Kobe and Shaq played virtually every minute of every game in their title run.

Of course, the NBA commentators have to have something to talk about while we all wait around for the Spurs and Pistons to trudge through the most uneven conference finals in recent memory (I would love to be proven wrong here). So we're going to hear the same Suns-got-screwed, asterisk-season montage for the next week or so.

And there sits Steve Nash, a significant part of six legitimate playoff teams that had their chance and blew it. There he sits with everyone's pity--pity that the Suns got screwed, pity that he didn't win his third MVP, pity that he hurt his nose--and nobody's criticism. Well, except mine.

You can always count on YCS to be the voice of cynicism in the sea of feel-good media romances.


Vinnie 6:59 PM  

Good post... One of my other favorite odd comments about an injured star is, "They lost 25 points out of that lineup." Um, not true.

I think the reason Nash gets the free pass is the lack of expectations always surrounding him. There's a huge difference between entering the league in obscurity and entering the league like Bron-Bron-Bron. Guys carry that with them forever.

Even more, Nash's transition from irrelevant to contributor, as well as his transition from contributor to star, were both very quiet. It's always been like, "Hey, Steve Nash has gotten really awesome! Good for him! You know what would be a nice reward? Two MVPs."

Now add on the fact that he's still considered genetically disadvantaged compared to, say, Kobe, and his team's system always provides a nice excuse for losing in the playoffs.

Having said all that, I still think it's bogus how much NBA stars are judged on championships. At the same time, Nash has had three chances with talented teams in a system perfectly tailored to his game, and he hasn't yet made the finals. That really makes it difficult to call him a star on the Kobe/Duncan/LeBron level.

Nathan 12:24 AM  

*AHEM* Kobe/Duncan/BILLUPS level...Chauncy Billups is my new underrated superstar, and LeBron ain't won shit yet.

Matt Zuchowski 12:12 PM  

Come on, our own guy D Wade would the correct answer to the question of most complete player in the NBA.

Stan Gable 12:37 PM  

Thank you for somebody finally pointing out that Nash never comes through when he should...and he harp on Dirk constantly. Personally, I'm not a fan of either, but has Nash ever been to the! There is always an excuse for him.

Tell you what Jordan, Bird, Magic, Isiah, Duncan...etc - they don't lose that game 5 at home, regardless of who is missing - they don't lose that game.

Anonymous,  1:02 PM  

You bloggers are amusing at best. But any theories or opinions you write about Steve Nash or any other athlete carry as much weight as an ant on the zone diet.

Anonymous,  1:07 PM  

Hey Nathan!

I see you're playing stupid again. Looks like you're winning too!

Matt 1:18 PM  

"You bloggers are amusing at best. But any theories or opinions you write about Steve Nash or any other athlete carry as much weight as an ant on the zone diet."

You know what this means, right?

Bill Simmons reads our site! Wooo! We're famous. It's gotta be him. Who else would carry the right mix of arrogance and pomposity with a touch of awful pop culture references (what the fuck is the 'zone diet'?). Welcome, Bill! Go Sox!

IceCold 1:43 PM  

Hard fouls happen at the basket, not at the end of games when you are running out the clock. The Horry foul was dirty.

Anonymous,  1:44 PM  

Oh gimme a break. This article is just as preditable - there are too many "Nash is great" stories. I'm going to selectively quote particular stats that will provide argument fodder to the contrary. Why? Because no one else is?

Steve Nash is hardly the reason the Suns lost that Spurs series anymore than Jason Kidd was the reason that the Nets lost. Nash hit 48% of his threes, averaging 19 and 14. In the Spurs series he shot a lower percentage, but still maintained those numbers - which were better than his season averages. He did this whilst being hammered on by the Spurs at every opportunity.

"Steve Nash can't play defence" is lazy. He is a terrible on-the-ball defender, true. He is also one of the better help-defending points in the NBA. You show me a point that takes more charges in amongst the trees.

Nash isn't scapegoated or treated as a loser not becasue of some vast unconscious conspiracy, but because he's actually really fucking good.

No - Steve Nash didn't choke like Dirk, he got beat by a better team led by pretty much the best player in the league. The rest is just a bunch of hyperbole masked as explanation.

Anonymous,  1:58 PM  

This article is some bitter shit. So is the follow up commentary from the widely-acclaimed "annonymous"...

Anonymous,  1:58 PM  

That comment wasn't from Simmons. You should be so lucky if he wasted 5 minutes reading this. But I'm glad you brought him up. Why is it that all these bloggers always write negative things about him?? What's with all the jealousy?? I find him to be a bit much at times but he is one of the most entertaining sports writers on the internet hands down. Personally speaking, I can't wait till he posts a new column on, he makes the work day somewhat bareable. And I'm sure there are thousands who feel the same way as me. How many people say that about yellowchair sports aside from your friends and relatives??

Nathan 2:35 PM  

For the record, I never said that Steve Nash was a bad player. He is a very good player, but is vastly overrated by being labeled the best player in the NBA, or even among the best. He is a very good offensive point guard, and an average point guard (like the Bucks' Mo Williams, for example) could not do what he does offensively. BUT there are several other good point guards (Billups, Kidd, Deron Williams, etc.) that COULD do what he does if they were put in that offense, and those guards play defense.

I also did not mean to insinuate that Nash and Nash alone is at fault for losing to the Spurs (or for losing any of the other playoff series in the past). No player in any sport really deserves all of the blame for a loss. The oddity here is that Nash has publicly earned the tag of "franchise player," but has not received the negative coverage that a franchise player usually gets when he fails to take several great teams to the Finals.

Gary Payton, Alex Rodriguez, Peyton Manning, Patrick Ewing...all of them have faced the comments of "He's good, but he can't win the big one." It really is amazing that Nash has completely escaped this year after year.

Anonymous,  2:48 PM  

A-Rod and, prior to this year Peyton Manning, had drastically diminshed stats in the post season. Have you seen some of the post season performances that Nash has put up in the post season?? I don't have the time to research them but some of them have been outstanding. You did get the title of your article right though, Nash definitely is a magician. The last two years have been 'what ifs' for the Suns- Amare injured last year (still took the Mavs to 6 games) and of course the suspensions this year. Phoenix desperately needs to get deeper. Relying on 6 or 7 guys to play big minutes all year and then even more in the playoffs has to take its toll eventually. The Spurs get contributions from at least 9 guys. Look for the Suns to correct that next year and win it all. Then we can put this Steve Nash crap to bed.

Anonymous,  3:20 PM  


I’m sorry, it's my fault. I forgot you were an idiot!

Vinnie 3:55 PM  

I think some people (Anonymous) really missed the "thesis" of this post. Correct me if I'm wrong, Nate, but the point was to ask, "What makes Steve Nash so special? Why don't people question his big-game losses?"

To go with the Dirk example, there are plenty of valid excuses for his failure to win it all the last two years (Wade's love from the refs, Golden Sate's incredible momentum, the fact that the Golden State team the Mavs played was not the same team that lost 25 or so of those 40 losses thereby making them way better than a typical 8-seed, etc), but that didn't stop anyone from coming down hard on him afterwards.

Amd to Anonymous--I'm glad we "amuse" you, and thanks for reading! (and coming back to make follow-up comments!)

Nathan 4:47 PM  

Vinnie's right. The point of this post was to ask why Nash doesn't get the same second-guessing treatment of other superstars that fail to win it all.

Personally, I would like to see everyone avoid those kinds of questions, although Anonymous makes a good point about A-Rod and Peyton's numbers dropping, because if that's a consistent trend with a large enough smaple size (three+ seasons) than you can at least ask the question.

I've made several posts about how Steve Nash is overrated, and that is part of this post. But the main point of THIS post is that he somehow escapes the "Can't Win the Big One" label.

Nathan 4:47 PM  



Vinnie 7:28 PM  

Well Nate, you'd be happy to know that an emailer named Joe was so delighted by your post that he said it "brought me to tears."

To all of you readers out there, try not to get so emotional about our posts. I mean, we appreciate your compliments, but you're weirding us out. (Kiddin' ya, Joe.)

Anonymous,  11:04 AM  


Who told you about me an your mother??

Zuch 3:13 PM  

Personally, I think anonymous is a still a bitter Jim Lyman, knowing that Vinnie and I would smoke his ass if given the same platform.(Just ask the 12 listeners to our MU Radio shows).

Anonymous,  6:55 AM  

Smoke my ass? Sorry, I'm not into the gay thing my man. I'm more into Nathan's mama!. However my philosophy is don't ask, don't tell. So you do your thing Zuchie, no matter what anyone else thinks!

Zuch 4:45 PM  

Your friend Steve Nash would not approve of this gay-bashing.

Anonymous,  11:48 AM  

Not sure how you turned my comment into "gay bashing", just said it wasn't my thing and I don't inquire about yours... must have hit a sensitive spot with you I guess... Your 15 minutes of fame are up. Only found your site from a link from Deadspin. Good luck with the rest of your life.

Zuch 12:51 PM  

Don't worry, that life of trolling blogs will take you far son.

Anonymous,  2:25 PM  

You're right, Zuch. That's how I met your mom. Tell her "hi" for me.

Anonymous,  7:37 PM  

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