Seven.

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?

About Greg Esposito

Hi, my name is Greg Esposito, my friends call me Espo and I’m a Phoenix Suns-aholic. I also happen to be the team's Social Media Specialist as well as one of the online content creators. You'll find my sarcastic musings here on Blog.Suns.com as the Suns Retorter.

  • Joe

    KJ is still better. But Nash is awesome no doubt.

  • john

    KJ could play defense,Nash not so much or truthfully not at all. To bad we don’t have either one right now, in their prime. Basically in my opinion Suns have Gortat, Nash, the rookie Morris, Dudley whose a come off the pine guy,and an array of has beens, almost ready for the hall of fame guys and just plain bench players. I bet were profitable though and there is that money thing again. Nash has to go, do we need another Amare lesson? Lopez, bye and take Childress and Warrick. Hill thanks for the thrills, your a class act and a smooth player enjoy the retirement. Brown can play but Redd is a long shot. Two years away from respectable. Oh our Suns just lost to Dallas 122-99. Maybe 3 years.

  • phamie

    It’s been a milestone for Steve Nash if he passed KJ on assists list a Phoenix Suns. I hope Nash will get it soon.

  • Kenny AKA “KJ”

    I’d say KJ, mainly because if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have the nickname (KJ). I was that 80′s baby coming up and was spoiled by greatness! When Nash was drafted I knew playing alongside KJ would be great for him. To see my 2 favorite guards share this record is awesome! GO SUNS!

  • http://Suns.com Stevan

    Nash is bar far a better passer than KJ and has him beat on longevity. However, KJ was an explosive scorer and in his prime quicker than anyone alive. In addition, KJ is a way better defender – remember when they put him on Jordan in the finals. I love Nash but Jordan would go for a 100 points if Nash was guarding him. Both have their strengths and weakness so I cant choose. Both guards are my favorite players of all times! This is why I love the suns…

    AKA- Let Dan Marjele Coach. He is long overdue..!!!

  • OldWithIdol

    Steve is a 2-time MVP. Steve has led the league in assists for 5 (and, perhaps, 6) years. KJ had (almost) always very good players to distribute the ball to. Steve can lead the league distributing the ball to role/bench players (and I’m being generous towards them).

    KJ was, obviously, more athletic and a better defender. But career/legacy wise, I don’t think it’s even close.

    Go Steve!! And thank you for everything

  • Phil

    Even though people say that Nash couldn’t play defence, he is one of the better offensive foul getter in the league. His lack of defensive ability and agility is made up with the number of offensive fouls he creates. Every other comparison is either in Nash’s favour or even.

  • Allen

    I loved KJ…. so athletic.. his slam over Hakeem Olajuwon.. WOW.. unfortunately the beating he would take on his drives tgrough the lane took its tole on his body… Steve Nash… 2 time MVP and as already stated his assist numbers if he played on more talented teams… who knows… both are great. Suns fans have been blessed to be able to watch both of these guards in their prime…. The only NBA jersey hanging in my closet has a #7 on it….

  • Mayt

    KJ is better. He had more assists in less games than Nash. Can Nash dunk on Hakeem? Not even close. Imagine if KJ would have been healthier. His numbers would be far out of reach for Nash. They are both two of the best in NBA history. I think its time to rebuild the team and send Nash to a place where he has a shot at getting his so well deserved championship. We need a young superstar to mold into the future leader of the Suns.

  • Jason

    Imagine how much better KJ would have been if not for his hamstring issues the last few years.

  • Peter

    Both are great players. In my opinion, Steve is the better play-maker,passer, and overall shooter. Check the percentages. He lacks the athletisim and speed of KJ but has better court vision. When matched against the slower” bigs” outside he holds his own defensively, just ask his bud Dirk . Inside he takes a lot of charges.
    It’s really hard to pick who’s better but Steve has 2 and should of had 3 MVP’s in a row.
    BTW I’m from Victoria BC

  • WhatTHE

    Passing of the torch just only now? when it supposed be a long time ago, currently NASH’s assist is 9,431 (1108 games played) while KJ 6,711 (735 games played). What kind of news is this?

    • Greg Esposito

      It’s the Suns all-time assist record. You have to keep in mind he spent a good part of his career in Dallas.

  • AZBIGDOGG

    KJ was the best underrated guard I ever saw. They are totally two different typs of players and you really can’t compare them it’s like apples and oranges. KJ was and Nash is great. Before these two who else was there HHHMMM!!!! Clem Haskins, Gail Goodrich, or reaching with Ronnie Lee…

  • Penny1

    @Johm

    Nash has been playing great defense as of late. Nash & KJ are just two awesome guys I’ve watched basketball throughout my twenty year as a fan. Bringing up KJ’s name bring up the good ol’ times. I will definitely miss Steve when he retires. I hope Steve retires as a Sun.

  • Penny1

    @WhatTHE

    You got it all wrong! Don’t count the assists in different uniforms. Nash in Dallas don’t count just like KJ’s in Cleveland doesn’t.