Is Steve Nash Re-Living His Rookie Season?

What do Babe Ruth and Steve Nash have in common?

What they started out excelling at is not what they're known for.

Babe Ruth started as a pitcher. Well, not just "a" pitcher—Ruth was the best left-handed pitcher of his era. From 1915-17, Ruth won 65 games, more than any other southpaw in the majors. In 1916 he led the league with a 1.75 ERA.

And yet we know Ruth for only one thing: home runs.

Steve Nash is the Babe Ruth of basketball.

He's fifth all-time in assists. He won his two MVP awards largely on his ability to dish the ball. And yet, way back in Nash's rookie season, he hardly handled the ball.

Nope. He pretty much just shot.

Just as he's doing again now.

But first, back to yesteryear: As a fresh-faced 15th overall pick out of Santa Clara in 1996, Nash joined a Phoenix Suns team that was forward-thinking (ironic turn of a phrase for what I'm about to describe) for its guard-heavy rotation.

The starters on the Suns' 1993 NBA Finals squad might not have been eligible to ride the rollercoasters at Magic Mountain. Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle and Cedric Ceballos were all 6'6"; Danny Ainge was 6'5", and Kevin Johnson, the point guard of this diminutive group, was a mere 6'3". Yes, sometimes 6'10" Mark West started at center, but in general, the Little Lineup That Could was revolutionizing basketball.

In Nash's rookie 1996-1997 season, coach Cotton Fitzsimmons was fired after eight games, and new head coach—and former Suns small-baller himself—Danny Ainge decided to continue the small-ball Phoenix tradition.

Ainge often started guards Kevin Johnson and Sam Cassell—traded midseason for Jason Kidd—in the backcourt, shooting guard Rex Chapman at small forward, and guard/forward George McCloud at power forward.

Nash, incredibly, was the fifth guard in what was ostensibly a four-guard starting li...

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