Steve Nash became just the fifth player to record 10,000 assists last night, even as his disappointing Lakers team got manhandled by Houston’s backcourt of James Harden and Jeremy Lin. But Nash has always been all about the team and making other guys better, and that’s at the heart of dishing a dime. So, we decided to keep in the vein of helping teammates by coming up with five guys he made better throughout his illustrious career with first Phoenix, then Dallas, then back to Phoenix (we’ll bet Cuban regrets not re-signing him, even if he won a title in 2011), and now the Hollywood Lakers.
Regardless of the loss last night to the Rockets, it’s impressive what Nash has been able to do, especially when you consider he didn’t reach his first 1,000 assists until his fifth year in the league at the ripe age of 27. Nash might have been a late bloomer, but once he made the jump, there was no looking back, and two MVPs and 10,000 assists later, he’s still a passing wizard, getting teammates involved and doing whatever he can to help his team win.
*** *** ***
5. DIRK NOWITZKI
Possibly the greatest foreign born player in the history of the game, Dirk got his start alongside Nash in Dallas. Together with Mark Cuban’s gameplan geared towards outscoring everyone (and playing very little defense in the process), they pulled the Dallas Mavericks out of the permanent basement they’d been stuck in since Mark Aguirre and Derek Harper were cheered on by the Reunion Rowdies. Besides sporting similar bleached blonde tips when Dallas traded for Nash and drafted Nowitzki in 1998, both learned together, practiced together, and improved together. They became BFFs pretty quickly, and when Cuban decided to let a 30-year-old Nash walk after the 2004 Playoffs concluded, they probably wept together. But then Nash signed with the Suns, and new head coach Mike D’Antoni, and the rest is history.