Is Steve Nash Hurting the Los Angeles Lakers by Not Walking Away?

Here’s a good question: When a sports franchise can claim 16 banners, 16 Hall of Famers and one of the world's biggest, most loyal fanbases, what is $9 million—really—in the grand scheme of things?

It’s certainly enough to keep a 40-year-old Steve Nash in the fray, even if it means compromised short-term flexibility for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nash made waves last week by announcing he had no intention of retiring before his three-year, $27 million contract ran out next summer—despite being shut down for the rest of the 2013-14 season with lingering back issues.

Here’s what Nash told Grantland during one in a series of videos produced by the site detailing the veteran point guard’s often difficult road to recovery:

I’m not going to retire because I want the money. It’s honest. We want honest athletes, but at the same time, you’re going to have people out there saying ‘He’s so greedy. He’s made x amount of money and he has to take this last little bit.’ Yes, I do have to take that last little bit. I’m sorry if that is frustrating to some but if they were in my shoes they would do exactly the same thing. I wouldn’t believe for a minute that they wouldn’t.

Coming from a player who has cultivated a reputation as one of the NBA’s “good guys,” Nash’s bluntness struck many as decidedly out of character.

At the same time, Nash does make a good point: He, like so many professional athletes who command our love and loyalty, didn’t get to his position by quitting when the chips were down. By fighting his way back and leaving the game on his terms, Nash is setting what he must see as an admirable precedent that peers present and future alike might heed.

To what kind of team Nash eventually returns—whenever that ends up being—is a diff...

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