Steve Nash and the Tyranny of Low Expectations, Part Deux
Here we go again.
If I wasn’t so sure of my sanity, and hadn’t seen this script played out before, I’d be on the horn to a shrink. Did the Phoenix Suns cut Steve Nash? Is he still on the team? It’s hard to say.
For some reason, this two-time MVP has been ignored by the local and national media following each of his sub-par performances in this season’s Western Conference finals vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. Not so long ago, the national media proclaimed Steve Nash as the BEST basketball player in all the land. He was granted two Most Valuable Player Awards in consecutive seasons. And, when this series began, Nash was the first face of Phoenix.
While Nash has never made much a splash in the post-season, this year was supposed to be different. Instead, it’s more of the same. Game 1: 13 points and 13 assists. Game 2: 11 points and 15 assists.
Is this the BEST that a two-time Most Valuable Player can do?
It must be.
The national media has begun to act as though Steve Nash is no longer a member of the team. He’s not mentioned in the lead stories, save for a quote or two about the height of the Lakers and the effectiveness of the Suns offense. His photos are excluded wherever you look. No pictures of Nash in action on America’s leading websites? Really?
He’s missing from the Valley of the Suns.
He’s missing from ESPN’s Daily Dime.
Ten stories and hardly a mention of that underachieving two-time MVP.
It would be curious, if it weren’t so obvious.
He’s missing from Yahoo’s NBA site too.
How about the Arizona Republic? Surely the face of the franchise is captured here — doing something, anything!!?!?!?
Not a chance.
Are they thinking what I’m thinking?
Perhaps it’s time to put Nash on the bench and let him lead the 2nd unit.
The Lakers’ “Triangle Offense” is predicated on ball movement, rather than dribbling. Therefore, a premium is placed on the intellectual aspects of the game — reading defenses, spacing, attacking dynamic weaknesses. It represents a shift away from the Anachronistic Manual Labor Hoops Style of Steve Nash, which relies heavily on his ability to pound the rock into submission and wear defenses down with the sheer brilliance of his handle. It’s the equivalent of a horse-drawn buggy competing against a Lewis Hamilton-driven race car.
Perhaps the Suns would be better off passing the ball more, dribbling less, and substituting Steve Nash out of the game for another player capable of playing better man-to-man and team defense against the fast-moving Triangle Offense. The Phoenix Suns are a team whose successes and failures have historically been measured by through its point guard.
It’s beginning to look like his time is up. Too bad no one else wants to look. All the press can do is suggest that Nash is not performing as poorly as he appears to be. He’s a two-time MVP matched up against the oldest, slowest, living, breathing point guard in the NBA…and he’s done nothing…but in Phoenix, they’re “OK” with that.
“In two games, Nash has been OK. But his 11 points and 15 assists were tarnished by five turnovers. The Lakers have dismantled the Suns’ pick-and-roll offense, and erased all those creative scoop shots Nash normally makes under the basket. While you never doubt Nash’s preparation, effort or sincerity, he is not dominating his matchup against the Lakers’ Derek Fisher, one of the few matchup advantages the Suns seemed to enjoy entering the series.”
Don’t be fooled. Last night the two men serially depicted above combined to score 50 points (Richardson 27, Hill 23). They led their team in scoring and did most of the grunt work (with an assist from Jared Dudley) that needs to be done in any playoff series. Don’t think for a minute that the literal and VISUAL exclusion of Steve Nash from the coverage of these two blowout losses is accidental. Richardson and Hill are more than capable of getting their own shot. Do they need the offense to be set up by a player who is such a defensive liability? Didn’t Grant Hill run the offense for the Detroit Pistons and Duke Blue Devils in his former life?
The national and local media share a common mindset – one that does not require overt collaboration or a phone call. They’re on the same page because they suckle from the same tits. Nash is not to be seen until the Suns are shining. Until such time as the Phoenix Suns can muster a win, all visual representations of this series are to be restricted to the Negroes planting lillies in the field. Today, the media are slinging bows and arrows at Amare Stoudemire — the same Amare Stoudemire whose aggressive, to-the-rim style transformed the invisible Steve Nash from an average 7-8 assist guy into an 11 assist “magician.” Are chocolate thunderers like Stoudemire and Richardson the new face of the franchise in the whitest state in the association, or are they the new Poster Boys of Blame? Where is Steve Nash? Missing in action, and getting prematurely fitted for a bust in Springfield.
I don’t see much value in Nash’s performance or his favorable characterization by the media. I wonder what Alvin Gentry thinks about all of this? I wonder what he’ll think when he’s fired.
Yahoo has a catalog of 69 pictures from last night’s game. Steve Nash, the two-time MVP and team leader of the Phoenix Suns is pictured in the 29th picture. Take a look.
Witness Protection Program — a term formerly reserved for the “kid gloves” treatment of NBA officials for Cleveland Cavaliers star, LeBron James. The term now applies to any media effort to mask the failings of elite players under championship pressure. Steve is in!!! The Washington Post also included a photo essay/slideshow of the game. The 9 slide montage of Game 2 did not include a single image of Steve Nash.
Now that Nash (averaging 12 points per game vs. the Lakers) can be juxtaposed with a guy who just scored 30 vs. the Celtics, ESPN has decided to look at BOTH underperforming stars. Nash, as a two-time MVP going up against an aging player like Derek Fisher simply does not merit a comparison with a young, rising player like Howard facing a wholly different degree of competition. Howard, by contrast has to contend with formidable defenders like Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins and Rasheed Wallace. Nash, by comparison is on vacation.
Here is the Co-Mingled Misery Image:
Are these people serious?
Isn’t it actually Amare Stoudemire, not Nash, who is facing the Herculean challenge of this playoff series? Doesn’t Amare have to contend with Bynum, Gasol, and Odom, while Nash need only beat the Ancient Laker off the dribble without over-penetrating or tossing the ball into the stands? Perhaps Steve Nash should really be juxtaposed with an underachiever like Rashard Lewis.
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- May 20, 2010 / 11:20 am