Nash Credits Suns Teammates With a Fine Season
Posted: May 29, 2010
A busted nose, an eye swollen shut, stitches – but always a healthy set of broad shoulders to more than carry his team.
While Steve Nash’s postseason hasn’t exactly been a smooth road health-wise, what hasn’t been difficult for the All-Star point guard is the affinity he’s shown for his teammates this year.
“I know everyone makes a deal out of I've never made the finals,” the playmaker said, “but if I play with a team like I played with this year, I'll be satisfied with that. It's phenomenally rewarding to be part of a group like this.
“It's a great source of pride for me to get a chance to play with these guys. They're just such great, great people and great teammates. They've committed absolutely to what we're trying to do. You want to say we overachieved until you think about it and say, 'We're a good team.' We had a real legitimate chance to beat the Lakers and go to the Finals and play for a championship.”
Collecting 21 points and nine assists in Game 6’s series-ending 111-103 loss, Nash ended his postseason 11 assists shy of passing former Sun Jason Kidd as the NBA’s active career leader in playoff assists. The point guard entered the contest a perfect 3-0 in playoff elimination games against the Lakers, before the Suns bowed out in Alvin Gentry’s first full season as head coach.
“Alvin's a phenomenal coach as far as his understanding of the game and ability to put his team in a position to succeed at both ends of the floor,” Nash said. “He's even better at handling his players and building a team, understanding who he's coaching, the dynamics of the group, the individual, how to make it fun and at the same time how to hold everyone accountable so we improve all the time.”
Never poke a rabid animal, and never take a poke at Goran Dragic.
Entering the fourth quarter with just four points, a tussle with fellow Slovenian Sasha Vujacic sparked a singlehanded six-point run by the backup Suns point guard. Hitting a jumper just 39 seconds into the final frame, Dragic was rewarded with an elbow to the jaw on the subsequent swing back down the court.
“I was just close to him, and he hit me,” Dragic said. “That’s all. He wanted to help his team out, and I wanted to help my team out.”
Hitting his two technical free throws and retaining possession, the guard scored yet again on a driving lay-up six seconds later.
Finishing his first postseason with 12 points, two assists and two rebounds in 18 minutes of Game 6, Dragic now knows that not only are the stakes higher in the playoffs, but so is the level of competition out on the court.
“The regular season and the playoffs is completely different basketball,” he said. “Everybody was telling me that, but at first I didn’t believe that. Now I see that it is a totally different world. Everybody is a lot more aggressive and strong.”
No rookie in the foreign diplomacy department, Arizona Senator John McCain talked up two of the Suns’ foreign players before Game 6 at US Airways Center – South Africa’s Steve Nash and Slovenian Goran Dragic.
“I’m a big Goran fan,” the Republican senator said. “I think he’s great. Where else but in the NBA would you have two guys from Slovenia (Sasha Vujacic) playing against each other? He has incredible potential, and he’s been taught by the master.
“Goran may be a worthy successor, but I’m not sure there’ll ever be anybody quite as good as Steve Nash . He’s in that class of Bob Cousey and John Stockton. There’s only been three or four players who’ve been in his class. And he’s such a nice guy. He’s one of the few players in NBA history who can really take charge of a game.”
A Phoenix-area resident, the senator has seen the good tidings the Suns' rich playoff run has meant to the city and to all NBA fans.
"At a time like this when there’s so much unfortunate unrest,” McCain said, “this is really a unifying factor which is very, very helpful.”
FRYE’S MESSAGE TO THE PHOENIX FAITHFUL
“I have to say thank you guys so much,” said Channing Frye, who tallied 12 points and 13 rebounds in Game 6. “At the beginning of this year, we were kind of counted out as underdogs and the fans stuck with us. I have to say you guys helped us win a lot of games and make this place what I remember it was (growing up). I can’t thank you guys enough for supporting me through thick and thin even when I wasn’t doing very much.
"For the future, this is a team you definitely want to stick with. There is nothing more you can ask of a professional team. You have great guys, you have unselfish guys, you have guys around the community and for us, it’s just a chance to be a part of something special.”