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Friday, June 5, 2020

Mike D’Antoni defends Steve Nash against retirement talk

Steve Nash LakersLos Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash cannot seem to stay healthy. Considering he will turn 40 in less than three months and is in his 18th NBA season, that isn’t exactly a surprise. On Monday, the Lakers announced that Nash will be sidelined for at least two weeks with nerve issues in his back. The veteran also dealt with neck pain during the offseason.

With the Lakers looking about as bad as most of us expected, some have wondered if Nash will ponder retirement. Head coach Mike D’Antoni fluffed some of that chatter off earlier this week.

“We’re not going to debate it or talk about it,” he told reporters, via Mark Medina of Inside the Lakers. “He’s going to try to get ready and try to play. That’s about it. It’s simple for us. If anybody has followed basketball the last 10 years, you would know he is one of the best in the game and the best ambassador of the game. If that doesn’t build you equity, so be it. Then you don’t follow sports.”

Nash may be an “ambassador” for the NBA, but he can’t play forever. He missed 32 games last year with a variety of injuries and it is starting to look like he could miss more this season. Still, D’Antoni seems to think he has more than enough left in the tank.

[Related: Pau Gasol is concerned about Steve Nash’s health]

“He’s only (6-foot-3) and one of the best screen setters in the league,” D’Antoni said. “He battles every second. He gets hit, knocked around and he’s always battling something. His back has never been good. He’s in the middle of a remarkable career. You can’t doubt what he’s done. There will always be questions in should he do this or do that. That’s normal. But I’m just happy I’ve been able to coach him.”

Again, I don’t think anyone is doubting what Nash has done. The problem is he came to the Lakers to try to win a championship, and that is very unlikely to happen. Unless Kobe Bryant returns to his 2006 form when he’s done rehabbing his Achilles injury, LA is going nowhere. With that in mind, Nash has very little left to play for.

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