It’s become a ritual. A certainty. A phrase no play-by-play or color commentator can pass up.
“Steve Nash, at [however many] years old…”
It’s a back-handed compliment that doubles as a built-in excuse for when Nash’s play, someday, finally does drop off. Until that happens, his age will be flaunted as an achievement — which really means he’s overachieving.
Guess what? He’s not.
The two-time MVP’s production is no fluke, unless you compare him to someone else. Problem is, any comparison to another former point guard in his late 30s is imperfect. None of them took care of his body to the degree Nash has. Some of them didn’t have the resources and medical treatment available to them that Nash benefits from.
Given how hard Nash works to stay healthy, how many modern-day treatments are at his disposal, and how his game relies more on basketball IQ and unselfishness than sheer athleticism, should his 14.5 points and 9.9 assists per game be a surprise at all?
Phoenix Suns' Steve Nash (13) puts up a shot in front of Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Jennings, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
If Nash were blowing by or leaping over his opponents, then yeah, it’d be a phenomenon. Instead he’s getting by on more guile then ever, tricking the defense with pick-and-rolls and probes, keeping his own balance while throwing off that of his defenders. It’s exactly what Nash should be doing at his age. Constantly pointing out his years only gives the impression he shouldn’t be able to do what he’s doing.
Why the hell not? So what if he turned 38? If Ricky Rubio or Rajon Rondo does what Nash has done over the last week, they’d be talked about as the next big thing. Nash’s reward?
“He’s good for his age.”
In an interview with Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic this week, Nash talked about his initial impression of Hall of Fame guard John Stockton, the most frequent old-guard comparison to be thrown his way.
Suns 107, Bucks 105
“I was always impressed with what [John Stockton] did, but I never thought I’d play this long,” Nash was quoted as saying in the Arizona Republic. “I never really aspired to do that. I just kept playing and playing, and here I am. When I looked at him playing at 38, 39 and 40, I just assumed I’d be done so I never thought to emulate him.”
He followed that with an interesting take.
“He had tremendous longevity and was a great role model in that respect,” Nash said. “I just never really recognized it at the time.”
In other words, Nash simply appreciated Stockton without attaching an age to his game.
It’s time everyone else did the same.