Traveling with the Suns, I see a lot of funny things and overhear a lot of interesting conversations that die-hard Phoenix fans would love to read about. Usually, I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to share those anecdotes, but I feel compelled to relay this particular one.
Now, as you can probably imagine, there were a lot of colorful comments and intriguing opinions expressed on the late-night flight back to Phoenix after the Suns’ dramatic Game 4 win in San Antonio last night. But the exchange that I couldn’t help but listen to intently was one that had nothing to do with the Robert Horry incident.
Sitting directly behind Al McCoy and I were Suns guards and good friends Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa. Nash, who is currently reading a book on Pistol Pete Maravich, was telling LB all about the late-great Jazz guard, who he said he wishes he could have met. It wasn’t long before Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo and assistant coach Dan D’Antoni were in on the conversation, as well.
D’Antoni, who said he actually played against him on the playgrounds of South Carolina, called him the original Magic Johnson. Colangelo told a story about the time he scored 50 against the Suns, after several of his temmates had gotten into a car accident earlier in the day and his team was short-handed. And Nash told Barbosa how Maravich once scored 82 points in a game at Rucker Park. How he averaged more than 40 points over his four years of college. How he was a wizard with the ball, and could do all of the “And 1″ moves in actual NBA games.
The history lesson on Pistol Pete went on for a good 20 minutes, at least, with Nash doing most of the teaching. It was very evident, and even a bit surprising to me, just how much respect and reverance the Suns’ playmaker has for Maravich.
All the while, I kept thinking that someday, 20, 30 years from now, there will be some NBA player telling a younger player about the greatness that was Steve Nash. How the diminutive unknown from Canada elevated his game to elite status and won back-to-back MVP awards.
How he once handed out 23 assists in a playoff game in Los Angeles, in front of Magic. How he once scored 48 against his former team in Dallas in the Conference Semis (’95) and followed that game up with a triple-double (34 points, 13 boards, 12 assists) against the Mavs.
How he had his nose busted open, took a knee to the grapefruits, and was sent flying into the scorer’s table in one particularly memorable playoff series against the Spurs in 202007, and never stopped fighting (in a basketball sense, of course.)
But most of all, I’m thinking that the next generation of NBA players and Phoenix fans will be telling stories about how the one-of-a-kind Nash guided and lifted the Suns to their first-ever NBA Championship.