Steve Nash has experienced pain, so much pain, while dealing with injuries for the better part of two years. But the 40-year-old point guard plans on continuing his NBA career for at least one more season because he is getting paid so much money by the Los Angeles Lakers. The two-time NBA MVP knows that his desire to play out his contract and his honesty about his rationale will rankle some fans but he doesn't think any of them would behave differently in his situation.
“It's just a reality, I’m not going to retire because, you know, I want the money,” Nash said in the final installment of a three-part Grantland documentary series chronicling his injury-plagued season. "It's honest."
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Despite being sidelined for all but 10 games of the 2013-2014 campaign by back and leg injuries, Nash is earning $9.3 million as the Lakers struggle without him. Since agreeing to a three-year contract with L.A. worth approximately $27.9 million before the 2012-2013 season, Nash has been bedeviled by injuries and played just 60 total games. He suffered a broken left leg in November 2012 and was available for just 50 games in his first season in L.A. while earning $8.9 million. He is due $9.7 million next season and will celebrate his 41st birthday while it's in progress.
"We want honest athletes but at the same time you know you're going to have people out there who are like, 'Oh man, he's so greedy, he's already made X amount of money in his career and he's got to take this last little bit,'" Nash said of the backlash against his insistence on playing out his contract and leaving the NBA on his own terms. "Yes, I do. I have to take this last little bit. I'm sorry if that is frustrating to some. But if they were in my shoes they would do exactly the same thing. I don't believe for a minute that they wouldn't."
An eight-time NBA All-Star who piloted one of the most exciting offenses the game had ever seen during his 10-year stint with the Phoenix Suns has been addressing the consistently painful and occasionally awkward denouement to his Hall of Fame-caliber career in a video series produced by ESPN's Grantland. He has offered viewers an unflinching look at his rehabilitation as well as an unvarnished glimpse into his thought process. Before conceding that the financial windfall coming in the final year of his contract factors into his decision process, Nash explained that he also wants to get back on the court because he loves the game.
"While I'm not willing to retire and give up that last year of my contract, I'm also not willing to sit back and say 'Yeah, I don't quite feel it today' and 'Yeah, I don't quite feel it' the next day and so on and so forth until I'm forgotten about and the contract is over," Nash said. But that's just not me. I still love the game enough. I still love the fight and want to do everything I can to get back out there. That is a real, genuine affection for this game that I have."
WATCH Part 3 Of 'The Finish Line'