Steve Nash’s guarantee resonates with teammates

Posted by on May 29th, 2:18 am

Steve Nash expects to be donning the old purple jersey one more time this season Monday night in LA, and his teammates expect to follow their captain's lead. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Steve Nash expects to be donning the old purple jersey one more time this season Monday night in LA, and his teammates expect to follow their captain's lead. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

PHOENIX — On one of the many days leading up to the start of the Western Conference Finals, I asked Jared Dudley how he felt about the national media not giving the Suns much of a chance in the series just as reporters hadn’t given Phoenix much of a shot all season.

Dudley said something very interesting: he only listens to Steve Nash when it comes to these things.

JMZ is not alone in that feeling. The Suns boast a room full of youngsters that lean on Nash’s every word, so when the two-time MVP says something as poignant as his Game 5 postgame proclamation that the Suns would “go back and do the same (hold home court) and we’ll come back here for Game 7,” you know his younger teammates were listening.

“It’s big,” Dudley said. “It shows you that he’s confident, he’s ready, we’re confident behind him. I expect us to win Game 6. Why can’t this be our year?”

Dudley even followed in Nash’s footsteps by tweeting on Thursday night: “Man!!!!! We let them off the hook.. It’s ok will go back home handle our business in game 6 and get another shot come Monday..”

Those are awful confident statements from a team going up against the defending champions, a squad Phoenix has not beaten in Staples Center in five attempts this season, and Ron Artest for one seems to think Nash is showing the Lakers “no respect.”

But it does show that while the rest of country is already gearing up for Lakers-Celtics, Phoenix’s local basketball team still expects to win this series.

It’s kind of out of character for Nash to make a guarantee like this. He clarified his statement a tiny bit on Friday while repeating its essence by explaining, “I didn’t say, ‘Ah, Joe Namath walked in with his fur coat,’ I just said we’re going to come home and win Game 6 and come back for Game 7.”

I think that Nash said it for his younger teammates who look up to him so much to show them that in his eyes there’s no question the Suns will be spending Memorial Day in Los Angeles. It’s the kind of thing that leaders do, saying the right things at the right time to motivate your troops.

“That’s the captain,” Jason Richardson said. “That shows a lot of grit to say that. We definitely feel the same way, and it’s definitely not going to be an easy challenge. We’re definitely not saying we’re going to whup them or anything like that. We’re definitely going to do whatever it takes to win this game, whether it’s diving on the floor, diving in the stands, whatever it takes. We’ve got to win tomorrow.”

Added Amare Stoudemire, “It’s a great attitude. Confidence. Every time you go into battle you’ve got to have confidence, so we feel we have a great chance.”

Nash’s proclamation also serves to take the heat off teammates like Richardson, who failed to box out Artest on the last play of Game 5, and Amare, who grabbed a mere four rebounds in the last game, and focus the attention squarely on himself.

It’s also possible — maybe even likely — that there was no grand plan behind Nash’s statement. We’re not talking about Phil Jackson after all. It’s possible that Nash was just being honest like he always is and just really, really thinks there’s going to be a Game 7.

Regardless of the reason after a gut-punch loss that had to rank among the worst of Nash’s illustrious career, his Nostradamus act was the perfect antidote to prevent any potential “woe is me” feelings in the Suns’ locker room.

So while this isn’t quite as gutsy as the Westphal Guarantee, it’s the perfect remark to make about a Suns team that honestly expects to be heading to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon.

“We can’t make him look bad,” Grant Hill said.

Mike Schmitz contributed reporting.

Michael Schwartz founded ValleyoftheSuns in October 2008 and is the owner/editor emeritus of the site. He is currently working toward his MBA in sports business at San Diego State University.

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Tags: Los Angeles Lakers · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Analysis · Playoffs · Steve Nash

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bond // May 29, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I just have FAITH in SUNS.

    Nash, you are my role model on and off the court

  • 2 vamsi // May 29, 2010 at 2:03 am

    If you look at game 5… besides Q2 and the last shot by ron Suns are the team with momentum in terms of basketball……and im sure that the Suns will win game 6 and then the series. GO PHOENIX!!!!!

  • 3 asani // May 29, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Amare and Steve come to play and put your team on your backs and not only will you win tonight you will win this series

  • 4 Tony // May 29, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Like Phil Jackson said, what else is he going to say, that we played our best and lost, the season’s over? Nash is a captain, he knows the Suns look to him as their emotional leader, he just did what any one in his position should do.

    I honestly hope he’s right and we get that Game 7. After Game 5 I want this series to go the limit, both teams are getting hungrier with every game.

  • 5 Dave Williams // May 29, 2010 at 4:09 am

    I look for Steve to put this team on his back tonite. I want him to inspire every player to lay it all out, hold nothing back and win the first of two straight. I believe !!!

  • 6 Michael // May 29, 2010 at 4:40 am

    But Darkside:

    Are the Lakers prepared to go the distance? Really? You do realize that the Lakers have been to the last two NBA Finals and are, last I checked, the reigning champions. They aren't some out of nowhere team on some hot streak who weren't even in the playoffs last season…;)

    This game 6 isn't the Lakers' first BBQ. Believe it or not, but the Lakers have put away better teams on the road before in the playoffs. The Lakers are well aware of the importance of a close out game in the WCF. Obviously Phoenix isn't judging by how they've done in years past.

    Suns fans HAVE to believe there is a chance to win this series. Laker fans on the otherhand only have to wait for the inevitable victory. What? The Lakers are in the NBA Finals? Again?…yawn, whatever.

    Win or lose tonight, LA is still the favorite. We all know for damn sure that Phoenix's scrubs only play well at home when everyone is cheering them on, that wont be happening in Los Angeles should they meet in a 7th game.

  • 7 OhYEahButter! // May 29, 2010 at 4:44 am

    LOL at the respect comment by Artest. Too bad you get all the attention and respect from ESPN, TNT, every sports writer, TV, and other media outlets and when a Suns fan tries to find one positive coverage , we have two-three blogs and that's it. What a joke! I hope Nash and co. kicks their diva asses tonight and again in game 7 and maybe they'll finally be humbled by the fact that they're in the WCF.

  • 8 Mel. // May 29, 2010 at 5:12 am

    Artest seems to be mistaking his respect quotient with that of his team.

    No, Ron, nobody outside of the Los Angeles basin respects you. You're a solid defensive player who occasionally comes up big, but who chews through the capital you earn with primadonna decisions such as not showing up for practice on time and torquing off your coach. You're Rodman, without the X-factor and rebounding savvy.

    People respect the Lakers. They're elite, and there's a good chance they'll pull a back-to-back championship this year. Prior to Thursday night, Ron-Ron didn't have much to do with that at ALL.

  • 9 CornFlakes // May 29, 2010 at 6:49 am

    @Michael

    The Lakers history, recent or ancient, doesn't matter here. The only thing that has ever mattered in the playoffs is the present, and right now, the Suns are fighting in the WCF, just like the Lakers. No one cares that the Suns missed the playoffs last year; it doesn't matter! They're only two games away from a potential Finals berth.

    Yes, the Lakers have the advantage right now. Lets see if they make USE of it.

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  • 11 Burt Darkside // May 29, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Suns have a huge chance to steal the conference titel here. They need to come out with great energy and resolve and just put away the Lakers with a dazzling performance that will carry over into game 7 and give them a hardearned but deserved trip to the league finals. Suns have been treated without respect by Lakers and their fans all season but that’s fine, respect has to be earned on the court, not claimed by mouting off on Twitter or another blog. Come game time the Suns will be ready to take this the distance…..question is are the Lakers prepared to go the distance? I know Jackson is a very confident and capable coach but even he knows that the Suns are not a push-over and that his team may loose its home court advantage if a couple of players have an off day. To steal tonite’s game in Phoenix they will have to execute perfectly on the offensive end and defend like bulldogs otherwise the Suns will steamroll them. GO SUNS!!!!

  • 12 nowayphoneix // May 29, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    everybody have so much confident in the sun but hey its just gon be just another empty trip. im watching game 6 right now and it doesnt look good guys. dont worry suns fan theres always next year. or the year after. lol

  • 13 Caught in the Web: Previewing Game 6 of Lakers-Suns series : Laker Show Blog - Los Angeles Lakers NBA blog, news and forums // May 29, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    [...] –Valley of the Suns’ Michael Schwartz demonstrates how the Nash’s teammates like his guarantee. [...]

  • 14 Game 6 preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns| Valley of the Suns // May 29, 2010 at 1:44 pm

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  • 15 Michael // May 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    What did I say? LA knows a thing or two about closing out opponents on the road. They've learned a lot since they came together as a unit in 2008. Those lessons learned proved invaluable tonight.

    The Suns did earn my respect through their tenacity and resiliency but, the Lakers are just better.

    In the end, Kobe Bryant yet again sealed the deal with his brilliance in the clutch and those impossible shots.

    I look forward to a Pacific Division rivalry with Phoenix although I'm not convinced things will be any different in the future.

    Boston will be tough, they always are but LA is better and wiser since 2008.

  • 16 Mel. // May 29, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    Unfortunately, Nash’s insistence on being the only person in the Western hemisphere who believed in Amar’e cost the Suns HUGELY in the third.

    As I’ve lamented, time and time again: Steve is capable of going shot-for-shot with practically any guard in the game, and his decision to eschew scoring for passing can have seriously fatal consequences in big-game situations. The fact that he lit up those three clean jumpers and then shut down into “let’s feed the post” mode when the rest of his team couldn’t hit a bucket from four inches away is inexplicable; likewise, the fact that Gentry didn’t go with a potentially explosive Nash-Dragic backcourt in the waning minutes of the game was a tough one to figure out.

    As for a prolonged rivalry, Michael, I think things will be different; though unfortunately, not for the better. As sketchy as he is, Amar’e is still what keeps this young team from being mid-level in the West, and when he skips town (Ostensibly to Cleveland or New York; the losers of the Lebron sweepstakes will line his pockets with max money without batting an eyelash), it’ll be back to the development phase. Phoenix has an outstanding nucleus, but lacking star power and featuring a declining Nash, they’ll be a 40-40 squad again.

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