Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against the Denver Nuggets at the Valley View Sports Arena in San Diego, California on October 6, 2014. (Photo by Noah Graham /NBAE via Getty Images)
It’s the word that measures how great a player is. Not just championships. Or awards or medals. Or the records you set. Definitely not money.
Michael Jordan. Bill Russell. Wilt Chamberlain. Jerry West. Magic Johnson. Larry Bird. Oscar Robertson. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Jerry West. Julius Erving. Isiah Thomas. These are great players who are adored not because of the championships or trophies or awards they won, but because of their legacies.
Let us define the word.
It is defined as “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” And Steve Nash, who recently retired after 18 years of giving all of us one of the most entertaining style of basketball ever played, has legacy written all over his name.
Nash has left an imprint not just in the NBA players today but also outside it, including here in the Philippines.
As Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated put it, Nash’s legacy lives in Stephen Curry, Goran Dragic, Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio, “even if they don’t fully recognize it.”
Heck, let’s look at our Filipino guards. Jimmy Alapag for instance. He punishes defenders who go under the screen. He also likes to penetrate deep under, circle back and feed a driving cutter for an easy lay. That’s all Steve Nash.
Photo: Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks to the media during a press conference announcing his retirement from the NBA at Toyota Sports Center on March 24, 2015 in El Segundo, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nash taught all of us to be creative. Never mind if he’s smaller than the rest. Or he’s not as athletic as others. He also taught us determination. Even if he has played with a congenital back condition. Of course, it takes hard work and heart to make it that far.
And Nash has at least 17,000 points and 10,000 assists to back it up. Count the two MVPs, eight NBA All-Star trips in. Let’s start the award counting. Three-time All-NBA First Team. Two-time All-NBA Second Team. Two-time NBA skills title. Five-time NBA assists leader. Four-time 50-40-90 (field goal-3-point-free throw percentage) club.
But it’s not really the awards or trophies that define Nash. It’s how he made everybody around him look good. Dirk Nowitzki. Amar’e Stoudemire. Grant Hill. Dragic. Channing Frye. Marcin Gortat.Leandro Barbosa. Boris Diaw. Shawn Marion. Tim Thomas. All of them played beautiful music with Nash as conductor.
We could write a book on Nash’s assists and passes alone. My favorites were when Nash, a soccer player before he took up basketball, used his feet to set up Stoudemire for a rim-rattling jam and when he bounced the ball straight into the hands of the leaping Amar’e for another slam in one of those dunk contests about a decade ago.
And we’re not even talking about how a class act Nash is.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is legacy.
Joey Villar is a columnist for NBA.com Philippines. The views expressed in this article are personal and do not reflect the stance of the NBA.