Steve Nash Update
Q: On making a return when the team embarks on the Grammy trip:
Nash: I think originally I was hoping to get on that trip and start playing, but maybe I was a little hasty in that goal. Nothing is guaranteed for me. I get these ideas in my head. At some point, I have to also realize (I need to) do the safest thing and the best possible opportunity to play basketball again rather than letting my angst get the best of me and jumping back in there. If it doesn’t work this time, I really put the season in jeopardy and I’m back to square one with like three months left of the season. It leaves me a very little opportunity. I know I can get healthy. It’s a matter of can I sustain it? Just trying to get that health under my belt for the amount of time where I feel confident where it can be sustainable is the tricky part and that’s probably going to take a little while longer than I was hoping.
Q: On if things are moving in the right direction for him:
Nash: Yeah, they are. Every time I get a chance to go to Vancouver, I really improve. But it’s tough getting up and back. It’s such an unordinary proposition. I have every confidence we can get there on the work we’ve done up there and here, and putting the two together. I feel confident I have a chance to play again. It’s just a matter of how lucky and how strong I can get to protect those nerve roots and that lower spine.
Q: On the number of trips he’s taken to Vancouver thus far:
Nash: It’s been three during the season. I came back from the one trip and practiced those three days and felt great. Two days later on two light days, my left leg just shut off. I was shooting and I couldn’t feel it. The muscles (weren’t) working, it was fatiguing. In like 10 minutes of light shooting, it’s classic neuropathy, apparently.
Q: On if that was a random occurrence:
Nash: For whatever reason, there’s a setback there. I don’t know what it is. I guess you could easily say I couldn’t sustain those three days of practice, but it was two days after the practices. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s going to take a special effort to keep it going while I’m playing. I think it can be done. It’s just a real dogfight. It’s been brutal.
Q: On returning, even with the prospects of the season looking as it is now:
Nash: I really don’t think in those terms at all just because I really want to play. I just want to play the game. I love playing, I really love the game and I know I have a very short window of basketball in my life. I just want to get out there and play, and try to build a little bit of health and confidence and ability to finish out my career. Whether we’re way down or way up, we might factor that in at the time, but I’m just fighting to get whatever I can.
Q: On his view and what he’s seen from the guys competing on the team:
Nash: I think it’s really silly to keep talking about it in terms of facing the facts: we have a lot of injuries. Our team was doing so well with a bunch of injuries and then you have a few more? At what point does it become like that’s got to be factored in? On the other hand, at times you’d like to see the guys play with a little more confidence and move the ball a little quicker, but this is a tired stretch of the season, they’ve been playing shorthanded, a lot of guys are in and out of the lineup. It’s hard to do. It’s hard business to be proud of your guys when you’re losing five in a row. One thing I will say about this group that I’m extremely proud of is this type of situation in the NBA, nine out of 10 times is one of disaster when guys start going their own way and they stop listening to the coach and you have a really combustible atmosphere. It’s amazing and a tribute to the players and the coaches and staff that this is still a positive environment. Guys still like coming to work every day, they’re working hard together, they go out and try to beat people. They’re in the game against Miami. They’re in all these games as one man goes down every night almost. Without getting into the ebbs and flows of your form during the season, it’s going to be difficult.
Q: On a potential target date he’s looking at to play again:
Nash: I came in hoping the last couple days that I was still in the back of my mind I was going to possibly make the Grammy trip, if not the start of it, so somewhere in there early. But Gary (Vitti) makes perfect sense in convincing me that’s a little hasty and the safest thing is to go back up to Vancouver instead of flying around the country and really get my two-a-days in – a 10- or 12-day training camp in there – and then come back and practice for a week, and try to play. You do the math, but sometime around the end of the month, the first week of February makes sense after a week of practice. But again, it’s all super speculative at this point because it’s such a weird tricky dimension when you’re talking about this nerve issue.
Q: On what specific things he’s doing when he goes to Vancouver:
Nash: There’s a physical therapy staff like what I do with Judy (Seto) here and the part I do on top of that there is a lot of movement. I’m trying to clean up my movement, I’m trying to relearn to move like we do as a kid, kind of uninhibited, to move with the right strategies, and have the right muscle sequences in your movements, the right firing patterns. I always hesitate to get into specifics of it because it ends up getting completely bastardized, even by myself who’s done it for a long time, but basically a lot of training, postural endurance, stability with movement. Basically giving myself an opportunity not to put pressure on that spine, to move freely and clearly and withstand the demands and abuse of basketball, and to protect the spine and nerve roots doing so. It’s hard. It’s hard physically but it’s really hard mentally because it takes a lot of concentration to build up to that place where you can just let go and move, and then you’re in the training phase, which you want to put some extra in the bank account so you can withstand to play. That’s another thing that just eats away at me every day is how far away I am from the game. It’s been two months now? It takes awhile to get your rhythm and everything down. The anxiety and stress over the last eight months has been very unwelcomed, for sure.
Q: On what he’s seen from Pau Gasol and how he’s dealt with adversity this season:
Nash: Pau’s a smart guy. He understands it’s a business and he’s also had a tremendous career. He’s been an All-Star in this league and won championships. He knows what it’s all about and he’ll handle it accordingly. As far as his game, you see flashes of Pau and other times you realize he’s carrying an injury, he’s sick or has a lot of miles. I think with all the change and everything, it’s something where everyone is adapting still. You’re going to see some nights where he struggles but other nights you’ll see him look amazing. That’s just the type of season it’s going to be with all the stuff we’ve had going on with all the injuries, the illness, the changes in the lineup. The way Mike (D’Antoni) wants to play really depends on guys to move, share the ball and make quick decisions. You have different guys in and out of the lineup, you don’t always get that rapport as quickly as you’d like, so it breeds for a little bit of inconsistency in everyone’s play, but you can see: look how well the guys did, we were 10-9 at one point with a shell of the roster. It’s phenomenal when guys give it up for each other and play with energy.
Q: On if there’s something that can salvage his experience here in Los Angeles with the way things have gone for him personally over the last two seasons:
Nash: It’s been a nightmare. Having said that, I couldn’t express how much I’ve been enjoyed being a part of the organization: the front office, the staff, the fans, everybody has treated me incredibly well, better than I could have asked for. In some ways, it’s been a phenomenal experience, but as far as basketball goes, it’s just been one disappointment after another. The only thing I’ll ask for at this point is to get my health and be able to contribute. After that, depending on what happens in the future, and how this team rounds out, we’ll figure out what could salvage it. It’s been a nightmare in one respect, but a phenomenal experience to be a part of this franchise in another, so I really hesitate to throw it all out. It’s a pretty special place and I’ve had a fantastic experience in a lot of ways.
Q: On his comments back in December as having 18 months left to play and if he envisions his playing career with that much time left:
Nash: I’ll take whatever I can get. Maybe there’s a freaky picture where I get really, really well and play beyond that, but there’s also the chance that something happens in the meantime. That puts me in a place where I just want to play. I just want to get anything I can out of my career at this point and walk away with a smile on my face and happy to leave the game.
Q: On listening to Gary Vitti and the training staff on whether he should play or not, or are there other variable weighing against him:
Nash: The biggest thing is I haven’t had too many injuries before and there weren’t too many situations I was in … I’ve never really been in a situation like this. I’ve been very, very fortunate in my career. The odds have been against me the last 18 months, but it’s a new situation for me and it’s asking all new things of my resolve.