What Does Steve Nash Have to Prove by Playing This Year?

Steve Nash's unexpected return to the NBA hardwood Friday night was inspirational, uplifting, surprisingly productive...and ultimately puzzling.

Thought to be out for the remainder of the season just days ago—a notion apparently confirmed by Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni—Nash's astonishing appearance should've elicited a collective "Wow" from the basketball world.

It didn't. Instead, the news was received with a different "W" word: why.

Why did the 40-year-old feel it was necessary to drag his broken body out onto this sinking ship? Why would the Lakers, who owe Nash $9.7 million for next season, even give him the option?

"Steve always kept in shape," D'Antoni said after L.A.'s 117-107 loss to the Washington Wizards, via Joe Resnick of The Associated Press. "He wanted to play and he was getting there, so it made sense to go ahead and get him in there."

If the Lakers wanted an all-risk, no-reward outcome, I suppose it made some sense.

Giving Nash those 19 minutes of action didn't keep L.A. from suffering its 46th loss of the season (second-most in the Western Conference). It also didn't impact the point guard's permanent position on the team's injury report:

Nor did it move the training staff any closer toward finding an answer to the problem that's cost Nash all but 11 games of the 2013-14 campaign:

Considering it had been more than a month since he saw any activity (he last played on Feb. 11), the future Hall of Famer looked awfully impressive. He tossed out a team-high 11 assists and filled the rest of his stat sheet with five points, four boards and three steals.

Again, the appearance was nothing short of mesmerizing—and potentially hazardous:

The Lakers entered this season with both eyes on the future.

That focus has only been forcibly sharpened. Bet...

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