Mathematicians hear it and they think the fourth prime number and a double Mersenne prime at that (or so we’re told). To others it represents luck and happiness. And If you say it to fans of pop culture? Well, it conjures up images of the film starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman and inevitably leads to someone shouting the line “What’s in the box?”
If you say seven to many Suns fans, visions of breathtaking passes, emphatic dunks over men the size of Kanye West’s ego (or at least the one he portrays in commercials), lighting-fast crossovers and a fade cut instantly come to mind. That’s because, for a generation of Phoenicians growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the number simply epitomized one thing: Kevin Johnson.
Monday night the number will represent something completely different for a new generation of fans. That’s because it is the number of assists that stand between fan favorite, and Suns legend in his own right, Steve Nash and the franchise’s all-time assist record held by Johnson.
It’s a passing of the torch that was set in motion starting more than 15 years ago when Nash was the Jay Leno to Johnson’s Johnny Carson as a rookie.
Nash told the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro over the weekend that Johnson’s mentoring is a huge reason why he stands on the precipice of the all-time record.
“You’re as good as anyone I’ve played against,” Nash said Johnson told him at the time. “You have to keep believing in yourself and keep working. You can do all the things all the other great guards can do. You just have to keep practicing, and one day you’ll get the opportunity to show it.”
Johnson also told Coro that he’d be ‘honored’ for Nash to break his record.
The fact that Nash sits only seven assists away from the record seems apropos as if it was an unintentional homage to his former teammate and mentor. Whether he breaks the record Wednesday night against the Hornets or at a later date, one thing is for sure. Seven may conjure up numerous images for people, but in Phoenix, the number 13 is just as lucky.
Are you Team Nash or Team Johnson?