Steve Nash, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and one of the greatest, most innovative point guards of the past 20 years, announced he is retiring from the game of basketball after a nearly two-decade-long career. “I’m retiring from basketball. Thanks for all the love through the years,” Nash tweeted while linking to a retirement letter he penned for the Players Tribune that looks back at his illustrious career as well as thanks those who helped him along the way.
“I will likely never play basketball again. It’s bittersweet. I already miss the game deeply, but I’m also really excited to learn to do something else,” Nash wrote. “This letter is for anyone who’s taken note of my career. At the heart of this letter, I’m speaking to kids everywhere who have no idea what the future holds or how to take charge of their place in it. When I think of my career, I can’t help but think of the kid with his ball, falling in love. That’s still what I identify with and did so throughout my entire story.”
Drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 1996 NBA draft as an undersized Canadian point guard out of small Santa Clara University, Nash would rise to prominence and the NBA’s elite as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, where his pristine passing formed a nearly unstoppable tandem with sharpshooting power forward Dirk Nowitzki. After six seasons in Dallas, Nash returned to Phoenix to join a young nucleus of Shawn Marion and Amar’e Stoudemire.
It was in Phoenix as the key component in coach Mike D’Antoni’s high-scoring, “7 Seconds or Less” Suns offense that Nash enjoyed his greatest success, winning the NBA MVP award two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006, joining an elite club of point guards – “Magic” Johnson, Bob Cousy and, later, Derrick Rose – to win the award. Nash also joined Johnson and Michael Jordan as the only guards to win back-to-back MVPs. While Nash was able to bring the Suns to the Western Conference Finals, the NBA Finals eluded the point guard.
With the Suns rebuilding, Nash was traded to a Los Angeles Lakers franchise that had its own championship hopes in 2012 thanks to a roster that boasted Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and, for one season, Dwight Howard, plus D’Antoni on the bench. Unfortunately, Nash’s stint in Los Angeles ended with three injury-plagued campaigns, including a lost 2014-15 where the Laker’s reoccurring back injury forced his season – and ultimately his career – to end just a week before what would have been Nash’s 19th year in the league.
“When I signed with the Lakers, I had big dreams of lifting the fans up and lighting this city on fire,” Nash wrote. “I turned down more lucrative offers to come to L.A. because I wanted to be in the ‘fire,’ and play for high risk and high reward in my last NBA chapter. In my second game here, I broke my leg and nothing was the same.”
Nash led the NBA in assists in five seasons over his surefire Hall of Fame career and finished third all time in that statistic with 10,335 dimes. The point guard was also selected to play in the NBA All-Star Game eight times, was chosen to the All-NBA team seven times (including three First Team nods) and ended his career with the best free throw percentage (.904) in NBA history. Nash also easily laid claim to the title of greatest Canadian basketball player of all time (contingent on what Andrew Wiggins does the next two decades).