He may not have entered the world, or the NBA for that matter, looking like an old man, but Steve Nash certainly has had a Benjamin Button-esque career arc. Like the basketball version of a fine glass of wine, or Betty White, he’s only gotten better and more popular with age.

Just six days short of his 38th birthday, Nash set the Suns’ franchise record in assists, tallying his 6,519th on a breakaway pass to Josh Childress who converted on the layup. The pass came 5,569 days (or 133,656 hours, or 8,019,360 minutes or 481,161,600 seconds) after a buzzed cut kid, who looked more like an extra in Revenge of the Nerds than the suave veteran we know and love today, dropped his first dime to then Suns forward Danny Manning. It was the start of something amazing, although none of us would have known it.

See, Nash as a rookie was the third point guard on a veteran team that included Suns great Kevin Johnson and one of the league’s best point guards at the time, Jason Kidd. If you had told most fans back in 1996 that the kid with the goofy grin and ill fitting uniform would eventually be the team’s starting point guard, let alone a two-time MVP and franchise record holder, they probably would have laughed at you, and rightfully so.

In his first two years in Phoenix, Nash didn’t exactly set the world on fire. He only compiled 400 assists in 141 games (2.83 per game). Due to the point guard position being more crowded than a clown car, he was traded to Dallas in the summer of 1998 in exchange for Pat Garrity, Martin Muursepp, Bubba Wells — the NBA equivalent of packing peanuts — and a 1999 1st round draft pick (a selection that would turn into Shawn Marion).

But it’s Nash who would have the last laugh (or at least laughs on a continual basis while everyone else assumed they were his last).

Despite never having averaged more than 8.8 assists in his first eight seasons, Nash would return to the desert in 2004 at the age of 30 after Mavericks owner Mark Cuban let him go (year’s later admitting he didn’t think Nash would be walking in the year 2012 let alone playing basketball).

While many doubted Nash saying he was too old or too fragile to make an impact anymore, his second stint with the Suns would really mark the beginning of his journey rather than its final chapter.

In Nash’s last seven and a half season in the NBA he’s almost doubled the assist totals he put up in his first eight year’s in the league (6,122 versus 3,319). He has led the league in assists five times, and is well on his way to a sixth, since returning to the Suns. It was something he never accomplished previously. Oh, and he won two bronze statuettes (and I’m not talking about SAG Awards).

Nash defies logic, and for that matter science. He’s gotten better with each passing year, and not just on the court. One could argue his sense of fashion and sense of humor have evolved as much as his game in his 30’s.

Nash now stands alone at the top of the Suns assist list with 6,522 having surpassed his former teammate, and mentor, Kevin Johnson’s former record of 6,518. Being atop the list isn’t the most impressive thing though. The fact that 6,122 of those assists for Nash came after the age of 30 while only 922 of them came after surpassing the three decade mark for KJ is.

While most guards his age are already in the NBA’s version of a retirement home — aka Turner Sports — or preparing to hang up their Nike’s for wingtips or flip flops, Nash is playing just as effective, or more so, than he ever has. It’s like his career is aging in reverse.

Nash won’t become the league’s first 38 year old rookie of the year, but he’s playing with the spirit and the effort of someone at the beginning of his career rather then the end of it.

Geoffrey Chaucer once said ‘time and tide wait for no man.’ That is unless your name is Benjamin Button or Steve Nash. Then it does more than just wait for you, it runs in reverse.

What is your explanation for how successful Nash has been later in his career?

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.

  • Craig Lawson

    Your article rightfully chronicles Nash’s assist numbers getting better with age. However, if Nash’s FG% this year ends up at 49% or higher (and it’s looking good at 55% right now), this would be the 13th consecutive year in which he has increased his career FG%. (His annual FG% hasn’t gone up every year, but his FG% each year has been higher than his career FG% up to that point.) And this streak continues into his 38th year….

    It could be easily argued that Nash is a greater shooter than he is a passer. There is still an outside chance that he will finish his career with career averages of 90%FT, 50%FG, and 40%3PT. I figure he would need two more years at 55%FG to pull that off, though, which would be ridiculous for a 40-year old guard.

    However, he does seem to be getting better, so you never know….

  • dan pyne

    this is easy to explain…he is the hardest worker in the league..even more so than Kobe..and the guy just flat out loves to play the sport. he also knows what it took to get there and hasn’t forgotten that like a lot of players have. and if there was a basketball GOD that rewarded all of this then Nash is his favourite player. Keep rocking it Mr Nash

  • JOHN

    Steve Nash “has been” a tremendous player. Last night against the Hornets he made you remember what could have been(title). However, Amare and Marion are gone and so is Steve’s ability to come up with those games consistently and without it our Suns are just plain bad. Sentiment and memories don’t produce championships. Nash got the record and he deserved it. Now it’s time for ownership to decide if the Suns are going to continue pulling in fans to watch a team with no hope or a contender. Saying goodbye to Nash, Lopez, Childress, and Warrick is a start. Harsh, yeah, but so is being a 20 yr. fan still looking for a parade.

  • Gus

    thanks once again for an excellent article greg!

  • http://www.Accentsofthewest.com/html/puzlnfun.html James Liber

    STEVE NASH BEING MORE SUCCESSFUL LATER IN HIS CAREER.

    The only explanation I can give is a statement made to me many times as I was growing up: The lord works in mysterious ways. You may never figure it out, just accept it.

  • phamie

    Steve Nash is an ALL STARS this season and he deserved it. He deserved everything. I am his fans since he enter the league in 1996 and I really admire the way plays the game. what a shame if he doesn’t get his championship ring. I hope he will soon.

  • Michael Severance

    Steve Nash’s ability to is based three virtues: 1) generosity (passing saves him energy from finishing); 2) dedication (he really seeks to serve his team and fans) ; 3) balance (he knows how to forget about basketball).

  • john

    I to heard a statement all the time i was growing up. Wish in one hand and (you know what in the other) see which one fills up first. Wishing, praying and hope are not bringing no championship banner to the purple palace!!!

  • Trevor Holt

    He is my favorite player of all time, so creative and really has his own style of game, flashy but smart with the ball, and beautiful shot. By the way what kind of shoes is he wearing the second picture, Ive been trying to figure it out for the longest time.

  • Eric

    Steve Nash is the most important player in Suns history, hands down.