Steve Nash Leaves the NBA After Leaving a Mark That Can’t Be Removed

LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t for naught.

The sleepless strategizing. The sort of paint-peeling pain on a consistent basis that would have brought other men to tears and certainly retirement, and so much rest in hopes of incremental healing (waiting being the worst of all for an up-and-at-‘em go-getter)…there was a payoff.

It came on Steve Nash’s 40th birthday: Feb. 7, 2014.

He played—and played well—in Philadelphia. The ledger shows 19 points, four rebounds and five assists. There was even a magical behind-the-back crossover to lose Evan Turner and breeze to the basket.

It stands now, after Nash’s retirement announcement Saturday, as the final time Nash won a basketball game.

“I love the game,” Nash said that night. “And when you realize it’s almost gone, you love it more.”

They say you get what you put into it, and that has been undeniably true of Nash’s love for basketball.

So much was shared back and forth between Nash and this game—his nonstop high-fives and delicious passing to teammates making every appearance on the court a celebration of the game’s joy—that there was plenty for fans watching to revel in and draw inspiration from, too.

Nash clung to the hope of more in recent years despite breaking his leg in his second game as a Los Angeles Laker in 2012, sending the circuit of nerves throughout his body all out of whack. He made it that night in Philly to join Bob Cousy, John Stockton and Jason Kidd as the only 40-year-old point guards in NBA history, but he couldn’t squeeze out much more.

The very game after that blissful one in Philadelphia, Nash took a light blow to the left leg and was derailed again. He played one more game before needing another month-and-a-half off.

He came back for five more games...

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