Steve Nash: “I gave everything I had to the Suns. I’m sorry for those that I upset, but my kids come first.”July 6, 2012 – 9:00 am by Steven Cuce
It was just over a half week and half ago when Steve Nash proclaimed he could never see himself donning a Lakers jersey. Well think again NBA fans because apparently the former Suns point guard had a real quick change of heart.
In what turned out to be one wild 4th of July in NBA free agency, the rumor mill had Nash going to the Toronto Raptors, then on his way to the New York Knicks before eventually landing out in Los Angeles to make what could be one of the most lethal backcourts in all of basketball. Ultimately it came down to staying near his children and no one could really blame the two-time MVP for making the decision to join forces with his former nemesis.
Steve Nash joined ESPN Los Angeles with Max & Marcellus to discuss being shocked that he is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, a behind-the-scenes look at how the sign-and-trade deal went between the Suns/Lakers, Kobe Bryant’s phone call to recruit him, balancing the flow of the basketball between himself and Kobe Bryant, suggesting to Mike Brown that he can run the offense, the chances of Dwight Howard becoming a Laker, the number he will wear as a Laker and the Suns fans reaction to him joining the Lakers.
Nobody saw this coming. Are you as shocked as we are that you are now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers?
“Yeah it was a surprise for sure. I think I said about ten days ago it would be hard for me to put on a Lakers uniform, so I think for everyone including myself it’s surprise, but I think things happen and first and foremost when the Suns decided to go into a new direction I was looking for a new home and the opportunity to be close to my kids was so exciting to me and I think you would agree basketball wise it makes a lot of sense.”
Take us through the process behind the scenes. How did this all happen?
“Mitch Kupchak called my agent shortly after midnight on the 1st [of July] and I’m guessing, but the first thing he said was ‘We know that we have had some battles in the playoffs and I hear Steve wouldn’t to play for the Lakers.’ But my agent being an agent said ‘That’s not true. That’s all media speculation.’ Frankly the idea to be close to my son and my daughters who will be in Phoenix was the No.1 priority. Don’t get me wrong I think it’s fantastic that I am a good fit for the team and they have a great team and we’re a contender. That’s always incredible too, but as far as getting over the hump and being able to be a Laker after being a Sun and trying to beat the Lakers in the playoffs all those years. The reality is that it was too good of an opportunity to pass up as far as my children were concerned. Fortunate for me it’s a great basketball situation.”
It has been widely reported that Kobe Bryant called you to recruit you. What happened?
“He did. We spoke. I think he was at his basketball camp. I think for me it was important to speak to him to make sure he was completely on board. He could kind of visualize this as being a good fit and being excited about it. I spoke to him and I spoke to Coach Mike Brown. They were excited and Kobe was great. He was excited and explained to me how he thought it would help and why it would be great and I think a lot of the reasons he had were the one’s I had already.”
How are you guys going to make the adjustment of balancing the basketball between the two of you?
“Kobe is still one of the all-time great players in this game. I hope he does have the ball in his hands a lot. But at the same time, I think it takes pressure off him as someone else can handle the ball, and get him the ball in spots. Maybe get him a few more easy baskets and at the same time maybe create offense for other guys so he’s not stuck so often having to take on one or two defenders. The same principle extends to the rest of his new teammates, as well. Perhaps we can all make each other better because of our different skills. Maybe I can space the floor for those big guys [Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum], maybe they’ll create opportunities for me on pick and rolls because of their length and ability to finish at the rim, and that combination will hopefully make it a little easier for Kobe as well. A lot of work to do and we can only speculate on that vision, but a lot of work to do and that’s going to be the key to any success.”
Will you talk to Mike Brown and nicely suggest that you can call all the plays on the floor?
“First of all, he’s the coach and I want to do what he asks. But I spoke to him and I think he’ll be open to ideas and thoughts, and working together. That’s the great part about the job, is that we all get to work together and find a way to make each other better and find a way to put each other in position to succeed. There’s going to be a balance there I’m sure. I look forward to working with him with the offense, and seeing how I can hopefully help the offense run more efficiently and help those guys maybe get a little more space on the floor, maybe get a few more opportunities to get easy baskets and put pressure on the defense.”
What would you say if Dwight Howard called you and said he was interested in becoming a Laker?
“Why don’t we wait until I sign my contract and get acquainted to the city and the situation before I start making trades and recruiting players.”
Wilt Chamberlain was No.13 on the Lakers. That is gone. What number are you going to take?
“I think I got to think it through. With all the Lakers jerseys retired, I don’t know what’s left. We’ll figure it out.”
How are the Suns fans taking the news that you are going to be a Laker?
“Well I’ve had an outpouring of text messages, e-mails and responses from people thanking me for my eight years there. There’s no doubt there is going to be fans who are devastated and angry at me and I understand that. What I’ll say about that is that I gave everything I had to the Suns and when the Suns rightfully moved in the right direction that I wasn’t a part of that’s a great move and a strong move for them to cut ties and be bold and try to bring in fresh new talent and start the rebuilding or retooling process. I respect that and Robert Sarver really did something fantastic to me and my family to allow me to go to Phoenix’s big rival. I’ll always be grateful for that and him. I’ll always be grateful to Suns fans for their great support over the eight years and a lot of success. The bottom line is: I hate to upset people, but my little boy and my two girls mean everything to me, and the opportunity to be able to see them three or four times a month instead of three or four times a season is incredible and priceless. I’m sorry for those that I upset, but my kids come first.”