Nash, Morris try to keep the Phoenix Suns relevant during NBA All-Star weekend

The rest of the NBA, like many Phoenix Suns fans, are calling for the franchise to free Steve Nash. Those wishes stem from the understanding that owner Robert Sarver and company need to rebuild and let the two-time MVP find himself a possible NBA championship elsewhere in the few seasons he might have remaining.

Management says that’s not going to happen. Nash isn’t going to ask for a trade either, and his All-Star level season thus far is proof he’s not going to mail it in.

For Phoenix, this All-Star weekend represents a Suns team clinging to their star in Nash with rookie Markieff Morris representing the little hope that their future is a bright one.

Be sure that the national media might poke and prod Nash for answers regarding his future this weekend, but I don’t expect he’ll say anything. What I do expect is that he’ll play the All-Star Game — the game will be televised on TNT live from Orlando at 5 p.m. MST — at his usual 110 miles per hour.

Likely, that won’t help the protests to free the future Hall of Fame point guard.

And on Friday, Morris will participate in the 2012 BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which showcases the NBA’s best rookies and sophomores, at 7 p.m. MST on TNT.

As many of the commenters on this very website would attest, watching the duo probably won’t provide any positive feelings toward the future. In the end, their participation only creates a shell of hope that the organization is clinging to.

In the name of enjoying yourselves, let’s view the weekend for what it is and only that.

What? The 2012 NBA All-Star Game

Who? Steve Nash

A quick look at the numbers, and you’ll realize that Nash being selected is both a tribute to his contributions to the NBA as well as a nod to a 38-year-old who’s still putting up ridiculous numbers.

Nash is the oldest player to participate at 38 other than Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. The funny thing though — Alvin Gentry told this to the Washington media before the Wizards game this week — is that Nash is still making some of the young talent in the NBA look silly. Maybe he can’t guard them, but they can’t guard him either. That’s why he’s here, after all.

On the Western Conference roster, Nash will fight for playing time with Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and starter Chris Paul at the point guard slot. He’ll have a familiar face in Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki on his side and that chemistry should be on display, as will Nash’s pick-and-roll game with guys like Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge and (I’m personally pumped for this) Blake Griffin.

Nash will consistently be at a disadvantage while matched against any of Derrick Rose, Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo, but don’t think they’ll care enough to lock down Nash on their defensive side either.

What? The BBVA Rising Stars Challenge

Who? Markieff Morris

It’s the first year of a new format for the rookie and sophomore game. All bets are off as to who is the better hoops mind between former Suns players Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, who, like sixth-grade playground ball, split the rookies and sophomores into two rosters. I’m not sure either of the team captains will be the most impactful general managers — this one will likely come down to the players.

Suns forward Markieff Morris will participate on Team Shaq, and while the rugged power forward won’t be skying high for dazzling dunks, his game will be well-utilized, especially considering how Mr. O’Neal constructed the roster.

In my book, they’re the favorites in this matchup. They have the best player, All-Star starter Blake Griffin, on their side along with two of the more impressive point guards in Timberwolves rookie Ricky Rubio and the Knicks’ Jeremy Lin.

Add those guys to the toughness of players like Morris, Bobcats guard Kemba Walker, Pistons center Greg Monroe, and Miami guard Norris Cole, and they look to be set against Team Chuck.

Charles’ team is highlighted by Washington point guard John Wall, Indiana’s Paul George, Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins and the 2011 draft’s first two picks in Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. That’s a flashy fivesome for sure, but in the end they won’t have the chops to compete with the workhorses on Shaq’s squad.

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