While titans like Shaq and Dirk plot their farewell tours, Steve Nash tells the media he'll play at least four more years, and perhaps longer. When the time comes for Nash to negotiate an extension with the Suns, fans in Phoenix and pundits elsewhere will knot their eyelashes and stare deeply into their knuckles, retching over whether it's a good idea to bestow 1/6th of the team's total salary cap upon a 37- and 38-year-old point guard with a million miles and a bad back.
There will be no ponderous hedging from me, however. While at that point just a quiet fan and not a blogging monkey, I felt immense skepticism at the six-year, $60 million deal Phoenix handed to Nash in 2004. The thinking: if Mark Cuban, a guy whose seat to view Nash on and off the court in Dallas was closer than that of 99.9% of us, and an owner who had lavished some rather outlandish contracts on NBA players -- if he balked at a deal like that for Nash, then he had reason.
I still have no clue what reason Cuban had, beyond the same inferences that rubes like me conjured up. Sure, Nash has been reinvented and refined in Phoenix, thanks to the Suns trainers and quite possibly Nash's own earnest intentions to make good on his end of the deal given the scrutiny surrounding the contract. Did Cuban just not grok Nash's drive, or did he have some internal gut feeling Nash's back would render him useless near the front-end of the contract? We'll never know, and it doesn't really matter much in the end.
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What does matter: I'm not doubting Nash again. Are you? If he says he can play until age 38 and possibly longer, you won't find me debating the suggestion. Nash has worked as hard as you could possibly want on tweaking his body and his game to perform at maximum capability. He has, more or less, become a complex machine. So long as his production remains stratospheric, I'll defer to him on questions of his basketball life span. I'd suggest you do the same.