Steve Nash and the Tyranny of Low Expectations

We’ve passed soft bigotry.  We’re on to the tyrannical.

Last night, the Phoenix Suns and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash were dismantled by the Los Angeles Lakers and one-time NBA MVP Kobe Bryant, 128-107.  Nash scored 13 points and recorded 13 assists in a lackluster performance punctuated by intercepted passes, excessive dribbling, and porous defense.  Too bad the national media has chosen to focus elsewhere.  No one has put out an APB on a guy who is always missing once the calendar moves to May.

Doesn’t anyone want more from Nash?

Marc Stein offers up this apologia for Nash:

One more game with only one open eye might not have been so uncomfortable for Steve Nash.

This way?

Nash saw too much of the Los Angeles Lakers. Way more than he ever imagined, wanted or secretly feared.

It was Pau Gasol’s ample wingspan greeting him as he turned corners on pick-and-rolls. It was Lamar Odom’s length obstructing the sight lines to Nash’s usual secondary targets on the wing. It was arms everywhere, basically, to compromise Nash’s restored vision and complicate his passing angles.

It was also way, way worse for the Suns everywhere else they looked in a 128-107 pounding, starting with a teamwide defensive surrender that will promptly hush all the recent chatter about how much tougher and stingier these Suns are.

Nash’s muted 13 points and 13 assists in 28 minutes would have to be classified as a bright spot for the Suns, measured against everything else they were subjected to in this humbling evisceration. As Nash later confirmed about his health, after his first game since closing out his longtime tormentors from San Antonio with his right eye swollen shut: “That was the least of my concerns tonight.”

Stein’s doing a better job of protecting Nash than Amare Stoudamire.

Low expectations are a bitch.  Do you expect more from Steve Nash?  If not, why not?   Is Steve Nash being held to a lower standard because he’s a minority?  Is the failure of the media and the public to demand more standing between Nash and true greatness, rather than hollow accolades issued by a politicized press corps?  What does he need to do for the Suns to compete?


  1. At this point, his play is embarrassing to the media that choose to anoint him. Folks have to make excuses for what transpires…and he’s playing with Amare and Lopez and J.Rich and Hill. They have SOME size. They don’t have Laker size, but that team is not physical and Nash isn’t the type of player or leader who could compel his big men to play more physically.

    He’s a very nice regular season point guard. That is all.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. The thing that jumps out at me is that his awards came from playing with a finisher like Amare Stoudamire. Amare was a baller before Nash came and since he’s been there. Nash was decent — a 7 or 8 assist type guy — middle of the pack. Amare lifted him up by the bootstraps and made him over.

    Folks live in a dream world. When Phoenix gets unceremoniously stuffed, folks will blame Gentry or Stoudamire or the GM.


    For real, thank you. I texted my partner during the game asking him when was the last time he could remember Derek Fisher being htat aggresive and frisky in offense. I told him that was obvious proof of how horrible Nash is on defense.
    Yet, none of the announcers mentioned it. I should have known that would happen with Doug Collins since I have NEVER heard Collins criticize Nash, not even when Tony Parker went at Nash’s neck on SEVEN straight possessions in one series and either got fouled, scored or got an assist.
    Nash never gets criticized. EVER. He was over-dribbling, falling down and all the announcers wanted to discuss was rhythm. It’s utter crap.
    Thank you for pointing this out becaue nobody else is talking about it.

  4. He had four turnovers and no threes. He played horrible defense. And all we get to hear is about how much of a warrior he is an how he can shoot with one eye. WHO CARES!
    And, I’ve been making that same argument about Amare and Marion for years, but nobody listens to me.

  5. What the media don’t appreciate or understand about Nash is that he plays basketball like its hockey.

    That’s why he dribbles so much…he likes to go under the rim and behind the backboard. That’s what great centers do in hockey. They handle the puck as much as possible and make great passes from in front of the net AND BEHIND THE NET. Strong guys like Mario Lemieux and Peter Forsberg are able to draw defenders out of position with their power and puck handling. Defenders attack to try to steal the puck, but sacrifice their position and create opportunities for others. Gretzky did the same thing with speed. Sidney Crosby does it. Nash has a hockey player’s approach to the game.

    What’s the problem with that?

    The Neutral Zone Trap. Years ago, the New Jersey Devils figured out they could shut down elite centers (Eric Lindros) and others by beating the crap out of them and forcing them to give up the ball or by forcing them into the corners. They made other players primary puck handlers and basically eliminated the ability of high-flying centers to dominate by handling the puck.

    So it is with Nash. Once the playoffs start, teams have the ability to focus in on him. Not only does he get abused on defense (the Suns have never had the equivalent of a “hot goalie” — an elite shot blocker), his offensive scoring and passing opportunities are limited in crunch time.

    Folks watching the game are wondering, “Where the hell is he going?” He’s going ‘behind the net’ to make a play…and he has to overdribble to get there — but he’s gonna get there, by gosh. And, the Suns are gonna lose.

    When you see Nash leave his feet to throw a pass back to the perimeter, you’ll know that the NBA equivalent of the Neutral Zone Trap is in full effect. All he’s doing is taking himself out of the play by going on the baseline and igniting his opponents fast break. In hockey, these are called “Odd Man Rushes” and they’re almost always fatal — unless you have A HOT GOALIE. The Suns do not have the defensive equivalent of Patrick Roy or Mike Richter or Dominic Hasek.

    This is the NBA, not the NHL. Nash will never figure that out because it works in the regular season and that’s how he SEES the game. It makes him unique and dynamic during the regular season, but it makes him a Lindrosian failure in the post-season.

  6. Damn. I know nothing about hockey so I can’t assess the veracity of your theory, but you made it sound convincing as hell. You need to throw that out there for the masses and see if it gets some juice.

  7. I think that either JA Adande stopped by unannounced or he just happened to heartily agree with my take. Either way, the perception has been mirrored. ESPN writers have been known to stop by now and again, but only Mike Sando had the cohones to admit it.

    Here’s Adande’s piece — a day after the fact:

    If there was some borrowing, I think he only appreciated the behind-the-net aspect of the comparison. The implications for how that approach is defended in the post-season was lost on him. My line of argumentation does not flow with his flight of fancy in defense of those MVP awards.

  8. Thanks. Two requests. I better get on the stick. BTW, it is the hockey analysis that allows me to think another PG could run the system. The critical needs are endurance and nailing outside shots well enough to through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Williams and Paul can do that…and they’re both better defensively.

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