The dynamic point guard announced his retirement on Saturday, putting the stamp on a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career.
There are so many things to be said about what he meant to the NBA. The bulk of his career highlights come from his second stint in Phoenix, but it's to be noted the body of work he had in Dallas, running Don Nelson's fast-break offense with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley. Our own Andrew Kreighbaum eloquently put those thoughts together, so read that here if you haven't already.
But for this week's roundtable, we look at the big picture and ask the question, 'What could've been?'
What would have happened if Nash stayed in Dallas his whole career? Would the Mavs have won a championship? Would he rank higher than he already is on the greatest players in franchise history?
How would you sum up how much Nash meant to the Mavs?
Kirk: Nash was the third leg of the tripod, along with Dirk and Michael Finley. Nash's low key offensive brilliance allowed Dirk time to grow and develop in a very rough and tumble NBA. A classic point guard and table setter, Nash was vital to the early success of Dallas in the 2000s. He, Dirk, and Finley relied on one another (though Finley was arguably the toughest of the three and stood apart the earliest, even if he didn't have the best career), and watching the team grow with Nash was really important to me as a young Maverick fan. Without Nash, I think there's a strong argument that Dirk Nowitzki as we know him would not exist.
Bailey: I can't really separate this from my own Mavs fandom. I realize the Mavs existed before I was born, and they were pretty successful then. But my first memories of a truly fun, competitive Mavs team were built around my favorite player, Steve Nash. So for me, Nash is hugely important to the Mavs. Nelly, Nash, Finley, and Dirk really forced Dallas into the national basketball conversation for the first time in a decade. And while they never made the Finals during his tenure (curse you basketball gods for the Dirk knee injury in 2003), Nash was a focal point of Dallas becoming a basketball power in the 2000s. And while I've made my peace with it, it took me at least 5 years to forgive Cuban for letting Nash walk. So yeah, he was big for this team.
Doyle: For a lot of folks, Steve Nash's tenure with the Mavericks was short lived and exists in the ancient past. However, he was integral to the Mavs becoming the team there are today. Dallas didn't have an identity when Mark Cuban purchased the team. They were bad...exceedingly bad. Nash, along with Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki, helped to stabilize the franchise and catapult it too heights that weren't seen since the late 1980s. Nash will forever be recognized as a transformative figure in Dallas.
Where should Nash be ranked among the greats in franchise history?
Bailey: I guess I have to assume Blackman and Davis (and also now Harper) were all pretty great Mavs, seeing as how their numbers are (or will be) retired. But as I mentioned before, Nash was my first favorite Mav. So I'm probably a little biased. But he has to be a top-10 Mav, right? Obviously there's Dirk, JET, those three I mentioned already, and then it's Finley, Nash, Kidd, Marion, Tyson, and a few others.On my personal list, he's probably 3rd behind Dirk and JET, but again, I fully admit I wasn't around for the '80s Mavs
Doyle: I'd put him right up there with Jason Kidd. No offense to Brad Davis, whose number is retired, but Nash was the second best point guard Dallas ever had,
Kirk: Top 10? This is really hard because Nash as he'll be remembered happened after he left Dallas. Cuban letting Nash go provided Nash with the needed motivation to really get himself into shape and get his back to a place where he could stand the rigors of the NBA. This gets forgotten with history but Cuban had a better argument for letting Nash go than the flimsy "Plan Powder" nonsense which led to Tyson Chandler going to New York. Nash just doesn't evoke the memories of fans mainly because he played so well for a Western Conference rival.
If he had been re-signed, would Dallas have won a championship with Nash as the point guard?
Doyle: I don't think so, Nash was always an offense first point guard. He couldn't defend anyone. The Mavericks needed to develop a defensive mentality in order to finally win it all. I'm not sure they would've done that had they resigned Nash.
Kirk: I don't think so. He and Dirk were too bad together defensively to build a team around, first during the last gasp of power basketball in the early 2000s or as it evolved to a more European style game over the last 10 years. Plus, I think each was the other's security blanket, particularly in Dirk's case. Dirk needed to stand alone if he was to ever become truly dominant. But that doesn't mean I'm okay with how things went. Dallas signed freaking Erick Dampier to the contract which started the NBA arms race and is widely considered one of the worst given out in the last 20 years.
Bailey: You know, my opinion on this has changed so much over the years. And honestly, I've come around to the school of thought that suggests Dirk might never have become Dirk if you didn't take his training wheels off. I truly believe Dirk needed to be THE GUY, and he was never going to do that with Nash around. Does that mean they wouldn't have won a championship? Who the hell knows? I still firmly believe that if Dirk stays healthy, Dallas wins the 2003 NBA Finals, so yeah, it was certainly possible. But I don't think having Nash around does anything to prevent the refs from laying down in front of Wade in 2006, and Kidd was essential to the 2011 title, both offensively and defensively (unlike Nash, who at his best could be described as not a godawful defender), so I think it is hard to argue that Nash would have helped in either of the years the Mavs actually ended up making the Finals.