A Canadian invented the game of basketball. Some 113 years later, a Canadian redefined the sport's most important position. + Steve Nash's legacy in Phoenix can't get any bigger than that. + "We're talking about one of the best point guards in history of the game," former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo said. + And unless he sticks around (chances: slim) and wins a championship (even slimmer), a proper farewell is in order.
Nash won two Most Valuable Player trophies in Phoenix, unprecedented in franchise history. For the better part of six seasons, he directed the best show in basketball, helping rehabilitate a league that had become hard on the eyes. He was a hero and role model to undersized underdogs everywhere, spawning a new generation of pass-first point guards.
He will rank near, but not at the top of the best players in Suns history.
"I would probably give the nod to myself," former Suns star Charles Barkley said. "It's the fact that nobody knew Phoenix before I got there. I had people thanking me for putting Phoenix on the map."
Barkley has a point. While he won just one MVP trophy and spent only four seasons with the organization, Barkley led the Suns to the NBA Finals. His impact on the Valley had to be witnessed to be believed, just like the 300,000 people who flocked downtown in 105-degree heat for a losers parade, after the Suns were vanquished by Michael Jordan.
"Put it this way: There's a reason I live in Phoenix, Arizona," Barkley said. "It's the bond we had with the fans."
Yet unlike Barkley, Nash soared in status and never fell out of favor. When he left the first time, he was a confident, quirky kid with his hair dyed platinum blonde. He was buried on the depth chart behind Jason Kidd and Kevin Johnson. He had a restless desire to start in the NBA. He wanted out.
He returned as a spurned veteran six years later, after he was nudged out the door in Dallas. He fit into Mike D'Antoni's system like a plug in an electrical socket. Those first summer workouts in 2004 drew gasps from onlookers, and word soon spread.
Steve Nash elevated the Phoenix Suns, redefined NBA's style of play
Arizona Republic | Jul 1