Grantland, an ESPN subsidiary, has been working on a piece with Steve Nash called “The Finish Line” about this moment in Nash’s career where injuries are mounting, and fans are, more and more often, seeing him as simply a salary cap figure rather than a basketball player (a hall of famer and a human being).
It’s something Timmy and I have discussed. We’re concerned that fantasy sports and analytics (both things I love, adore, believe in, support wholeheartedly) convert us to the side of the owner (take notice the next time you say a player is being overpaid for their skillset, or should be cut to save cap money, or that the someone is ‘dead money’). I’m jotting notes to write more about this in the near future, but the mode of thinking about sports at this moment is, unfortunately, a tacit approval/viewing through the lens of the owning class and it’s interests against the workers (players).
Cue “The Finish Line.” It brings us back to the humanity of Nash. We forgot somehow, he loves basketball. No, again, he *LOVES* basketball. He loves it more than you or I love fantasy basketball. He lives for it, and he’s pushing his bodies limits farther than you and I could imagine in rehab to try to get back on the floor, and he’ll be damned to retire so that the Lakers can restructure their cap and pay someone else. It means more to him than your phone calls to talk radio saying that he’s selfish, or greedy.
And I can appreciate that. I had fallen myself into the idea that Nash should retire, clear some cap space, help the Lakers make a move in the offseason. Which was difficult for me. I love Steve Nash, I love his game, I used to go to see him play whenever the Suns were in town, and I had come to a place where I felt “maybe, for his sake, he should retire.”
Post this series, I’ve taken a sharp turn. I want to see Nash, on the court one more time. I encourage everyone to read the initial piece/primer, and then just watch the well made doc-videos. They are short, but get the point across.
Sometimes, it’s more than a game.