The Smoking Cuban
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#TBT: When Steve Nash Was Still Nashty

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It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 10 years since Mav fans last saw Steve Nash don a Dallas uniform. The ’03-’04 season would be Nash’s last season as a Mav. Nash wanted to come back to Dallas. Cuban wanted Nash to come back to Dallas. Unfortunately, the money told the story of two different ‘wants.’

Nash, a then 2-time All-Star, had been no more than a blip on the radar when the Mavs acquired him before the ’98-’99 season. In the two years prior to joining the Mavs, Nash had played for the Phoenix Suns but had largely been relegated to the shade. He only started 11 games in 2 seasons as a Sun, averaging 16.6 minutes per game. You could say that the Nash/Dirk combo was a parting gift from the then ownership group of Donald Carter & Ross Perot Jr. And, man, what a helluva parting gift. The additions of Nash & Dirk along with a guy named Michael Finley led to the creation of a new big three in the Big D. These three would light the flame and ignite a run of success for the Mavs that would start with a playoff appearance in the ’00-’01 season, the team’s first since ’89-’90, and continue long past Nash’s departure.

Long story short, Steve Nash’s career was born in a Dallas Mavericks uniform. Accordingly, the Mav fan faithful reciprocated his joy, his pure love of the game with the same excitement and fervor every time he laced up to take the floor. Which is why, after the ’03-’04 season, when the equivilant of a Mavericks/Nash divorce took place Mav fans were heartbroken and disgusted. As a then 20 year old, I remembered searching for answers. Why? Why did Cuban let him go? Good thing for me, our owner was an open book and I was able to stumble upon Mark Cuban’s blog – the very explanation of why he would let such a fan-favorite go.

There are a lot of opinions as to why Steve Nash and Mark Cuban couldn’t get a deal done and each party has offered up their story of that summer’s events to the public table. Although, I think Steve says it best when he said: ““I just remember wanting to be back in Dallas — but understanding that it just wasn’t meant to be.”

“I just remember wanting to be back in Dallas — but understanding that it just wasn’t meant to be.”

Honestly, that was the start of a lot of ‘not meant to be’s.” Nash seemingly flourished in his second stint in Phoenix being named to 6 more All-Star games and league MVP twice. Yet, he always seemed to fall just shy of that elusive NBA Championship. Which is why the most recent news, suggesting that Nash will miss what will arguably be his last professional season with nerve damage, is yet another heartbreak for Nash and his fans. Actually, this season ending injury is a bit ironic – as some suggest that this very injury is the reason Mark Cuban moved on from the then 30 year old point-guard in the first place. Guess things come full-circle.

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You know Nash has known the end was coming and coming soon. Especially once you saw his collaboration with Grantland appropriately titled, “The Finish Line.” Still you can’t help but wonder, would the Mavericks have won more titles if they had locked up Steve Nash long term at the end of the ’03-’04 season? Would we have more than our one title if he had stayed? I can’t help but feel sort of bad for the guy. Instead of going out running and gunning as we’d been accustomed to seeing, we see him liming, crawling out carrying 18 years of NBA luggage (pun intended).

Still, I think if I could choose … I’d choose to remember those days. Those days when Nash was a Mav. A badass, All-Star Mav. When Nash was still Nashty.

PHOTO CREDIT: Huy Nguyen/File Photo/Dallas News

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