Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/26/12
PHOENIX -- A season that encouraged Phoenix Suns fans to absorb constant reminders regarding the proper time to rise and put on their game faces concluded Wednesday night with an unsanctioned recommendation. Despite the lack of official billing, it was easy to consider the otherwise meaningless -- but brutally ironic -- date with the San Antonio Spurs as an appropriate time to rise and put on your just-in-case face. Just in the case the star of this event -- and the eight-year star of this city -- is working elsewhere next season. Perhaps taking his final curtain call as a Sun was two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash, whose pending free agency provoked a standing and commanding U.S. Airways Center chant of "We Want Steve!" as the final minutes ticked down in the fourth quarter. We're pretty sure the words were directed at Coach Alvin Gentry, but they also could be considered an indirect request aimed at team owner Robert Sarver. Sarver and his basketball-ops unit must choose between using cap space in a dicey free-agent season to upgrade their roster to Nash-acceptable limits, or a painful move into a future without, perhaps, the most popular Sun in history. Anyway, with the chanting at playoff level, Gentry relented. Nash peeled off the warm-up suit, re-entered the game (which ended in a 110-106 Spurs victory) to another roar, and promptly threw the ball away. Then he left -- for now, but possibly for good -- on the next dead ball. "Obviously, it was amazing to get that type of reaction and support," Nash said. "It's very special because it's not something that I asked for or imagined to get that type of spontaneous reaction. "It's authentic ... the relationship that I thought we had, so it's great. It really feels special and the fans have been phenomenal. It meant a lot to me to play in a city like this for as long as I have and to feel important to the fans and the community. And I just feel like a very lucky guy." As Suns fans await another late-lottery draft selection and the highly-anticipated free-agent skirmishes, national opinion-makers continue to urge a parting of the ways. Nash, it's often reasoned, deserves an opportunity to play for a team with at least more potential for a postseason run than the Suns -- who finished this season at 33-33 -- seem capable of mustering. And the helpful talking heads also believe the best long-term planning for the Suns should include moving forward without Nash. No less an expert than Suns Ring-Of-Honor resident Charles Barkley has claimed that re-hiring the eventual Hall-of-Fame point guard would be less than wise. As basketball watchdogs debate each side of this issue, Nash will prepare for a decision that will coax a rising tide of scrutiny. "I'm in no rush," the 38-year-old Nash said in regard to next his course of action. "I'm going to have to sit down and consider my options. There's a lot of factors involved. "I honestly have no clue. I don't know what the future holds and I'm OK with that." By the way Nash scored 8 points -- making 4 of 7 shots from the field -- and handed out 7 assists in the 17:27 he played in what might have been his last home performance on Planet Orange. Also potentially suiting up as Suns for the final time were Robin Lopez, Michael Redd, Sebastian Telfair (20 points), Shannon Brown (21 points) and Ronnie Price. Grant Hill, who was playing on a one-year contract, rested his recently-repaired knee in what could have been his last night as a Sun. "I'm not the most sentimental person in the world," Nash said. "But if this were to be my last game, it would be a night to remember." Suns fans will remember the assists -- sensational and functional -- along with the deadly, off-balance 3-pointers and out-of-harm's ways scoop layups. They'll remember the bumps, bruises and bandages, the Robert Horry hip check and the sensational seasons that ended on the opening note of a Spurs celebration. Although many acknowledge the efficacy of parting company with Nash, most Suns fans still want Steve. On Wednesday, they realized that he may never pass this way again ... at least not in a Suns uniform. And it's a good bet that no future Sun will, either.
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