On fan reaction to the Steve Nash trade

Based on what I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook today as well as this very site’s comment section, many Suns fans are outraged that Steve Nash would force a trade to them.

Suns fans were prepared to jump on the bandwagon of the Knicks or the Nets or the Mavericks or whatever team it would end up being so long as it would not be the hated Los Angeles Lakers. Everybody wants to see Nash win a ring; nobody wants to see Kobe win his sixth at the same time.

As Seth Pollack detailed over at Bright Side, “For Steve Nash to pick the Purple and Gold as his final uniform is a knife to the back of those fans who embraced his return after being discarded by Dallas.”

As I was trying to argue the virtues of the trade, Jason Zaler summed up many fans’ feelings by writing to me on Facebook, “Michael, the fact is the there ARE emotions in Sport. Much tougher for long suffering fanbases than for the players themselves.”

I grew up a Phoenix Suns fan, and there is no player in this franchise’s history that I have enjoyed watching more than Steve Nash. Hell, when I play ball I try to emulate him to the extent that I drive through the lane and back out and take pull-up threes off the dribble (unsuccessfully I might add) more often than I should.

Yet in running this site for four years, I have always sought to think with my head rather than my heart. It’s always about what move puts the Suns in the best future position, not “OMG they just traded another SSOL guy!”

Thus, when I heard the Suns were obtaining four picks, including two first-rounders, my first thought was that the management appeased Nash while getting back lots of draft flexibility, not the fact that we’re going to have to suffer through three seasons of Nash in purple and gold.

Looking at the trade without emotion it would appear the Suns made out like bandits. Instead of getting nothing for Nash (or having to gum up their cap and not be able to sign Goran Dragic), the Suns have two first-round picks coming their way, picks that could come in handy in negotiations with New Orleans for Eric Gordon.

But that’s not what many Suns fans see. They see their favorite player and franchise icon heading to play for the team they despise more than any other (aside from perhaps San Antonio).

Lakers fans will be unbearable these next few years (if they weren’t already) and it’s pretty funny to see them all flip flop on how they feel about Nash.

I made the comment that we are all just rooting for laundry in my previous piece, and perhaps that’s true for the players but not fans. Fans felt a real loyalty to Nash, and by asking for a trade to the despised Lakers it makes them question all those years of undying devotion to him.

This makes for an uncomfortable case of cognitive dissonance because most Suns fans love Nash but hate the Lakers. That’s a problem when it’s now impossible to root for Nash but not the Lakers.

To some it has felt like a betrayal. Suns fans have been preparing for this day for two years (and really seemed to sense it during that finale against the Spurs with the “We want Steve!” chants), yet it has always been this fan base’s worst nightmare that he ends up as Kobe’s sidekick. Any other team and this would be a bittersweet situation; with this being the Lakers many people seem ready to turn in their fan card.

Ultimately this is nobody’s fault. This is not the LeBron situation. Nash did not embarrass the organization, in fact all parties seemed to agree now was the time to move on.

This is not the Dwight situation. He did not get half the organization fired while flip-flopping about his intentions and acting like a petulant child at the same time. He remained loyal to the Suns until the bitter end through these past two disappointing years, and by this point it became painfully obvious both sides would be better off apart (although it would have been interesting to see him next to Gordon).

As such, I hope fans give him the applause he deserves when he next returns to US Airways Center. The man did everything he could to bring this franchise a championship in his eight seasons. He handled himself with the utmost class and changed the way the league plays offense. He’s arguably the best player in franchise history and one of the most exciting to ever play the game. It’s too bad he’s a Laker, but if I were not sitting on press row I’d be applauding him.

He’s not Benedict Arnold, he’s just trying to win a ring like all these Suns fans have wanted him to do these past few years.

As a reporter/analyst, it is my job to remain objective. I am always thinking about how such and such moves impacts future flexibility, and how Move A affects Move B.

In that regard, the Phoenix Suns are better today with the four draft picks than they would be if Nash picked Toronto. That’s the way I see this move.

Yet at the same time, basketball isn’t played on a spreadsheet. Emotions are involved, and everyone loves Nash but hates the Lakers.

This isn’t an easy day for anybody who calls themselves a Suns fan, so I get why people feel so strongly, but just because the Suns’ biggest star decided to play for the Lakers is no reason to forget everything he meant to this franchise.

How will Nash do without the Suns’ vaunted training staff?

Shaq may as well have retired once he left the clutches of Aaron Nelson and the warlocks, as he hardly resembled a shell of the player who eked out one final All-Star appearance as a Sun once he left Phoenix.

So how will Nash do now that Nelson is no longer watching his every move?

When I interviewed Nelson for my big feature on the Suns’ training staff, he explained how well he understands how Nash’s body works.

“He gets a little pain from shearing forces, but then he doesn’t feel like he can stop the way he stops, when he’s shooting he might drift, so it’s changing just real small, small things with his body, and we’ve watch him every day for the last [eight] years so we see that stuff. If you were just watching Nash play he either looks fatigued or he’s missing shots, but we can see some of those issues.”

Will the Lakers’ trainers see that stuff as well?

A relative bargain for Beasley

So while the Rockets are paying $25 million over three years for Omer Asik and the Raptors $20 million over three for Landry Fields, the Suns acquired Beasley for $18 million over three years.

This for an immensely talented former No. 2 overall pick with a 19.2 ppg season already under his belt. Beasley is a high-risk, high-reward kind of player, but in this situation a $6 million a year risk is certainly worth the potential reward Beasley could provide.

Tags: Michael Beasley Steve Nash

  • cha cha cha

    the Gordon situation is sorta like the JJ/Hawks situation in reverse. can’t they just send NO Warrick and a couple picks?

  • Scott

    So … now all the Suns have to do is trade Childress, Warrick, Frye, and the Lakers’ picks to Dallas for Dirk ….

  • Ty-Sun

    I suppose the “Gordon situation” in NO depends on whether they think that they will ultimately be able to win him over and he’ll want to stay there. Obviously, drafting Rivers was a mistake if that was their goal.

  • MKM

    What’s plan B if New Orleans matches Eric Gordon max contract? I hope the Suns will offer Nash a 3-year contract to undo this LA trade … and use Marshall & the remaining cap space to trade for one more good player.

  • cha cha cha

    “So … now all the Suns have to do is trade Childress, Warrick, Frye, and the Lakers’ picks to Dallas for Dirk ….”

    seriously. Dirk lost Terry, and now Kidd.

  • Ty-Sun

    Lol, Scott. But Dallas is royally screwed after putting all their eggs in the D-Will basket. With Terry going to the Celtics and Kidd going to the Knicks and the ONLY real talent left in Dallas being Dirk and Marion, Dirk might actually be hoping for the Suns to at least try that trade! Even if Cuban is willing to go deep into luxury tax territory this year there just isn’t enough talent in the FA market to make the Mavs as good as they were LAST season and I think that Dirk may actually end his career wearing something other than a Mavs uni. He won’t leave this year but next year…

    … I think Dirk would look good in orange. :)

  • Nick

    Im pissed Nash is gone too… BUT I really believe paying that kind of money for a guy who will be 40-41 years old by the end of the contract, doesent play defense and will no longer have the Suns staff…i just don’t think this is going to put the lake show back on top. They give up four picks, have no financial flexibility, and seem to think a very OLD backcourt is going to beat the younger more athletic teams in the league. I’m going to have fun rooting against this Laker team. Puff you Nash. Good luck, but seriously puff you.

  • joey

    If lakers are healthy they will win the ring next year. Nash was amazing here but all things come to an end. I hate L.A. but at least he didn’t go to the spurs.lol Suns have a bright future with dragic, morris, gortat, beasley, marshall, and hopefully gordon too. Just need to get rid of childress and warrick contracts and pick up a real pf who can play in the post. Hopefully we can find another amare in the draft.

  • Nathanael

    After reading this (and noting that my Benedict Arnold comment was utilzed) I have reconsidered my abject anger at Steve Nash after yesterday.

    That being said, I hope he never wins a championship with the Lakers.

    I live in LA. I have lived here as a die-hard Suns fan for 10 years now. And I know how Lakers fans get. They’ve already flipped flopped from tossing gay slurs at Nash in my direction as they have in the past to mocking me and saying how good Nash is going to be with Kobe & Bynum. They will all end up saying that Kobe got Steve a ring, and not the other way around, and that will haunt me forever as a Suns fan, that Steve Nash, the guy who I defended for years in hostile territory, will have won his only championship with the player and team I despise the most.

  • cha cha cha

    “but at least he didn’t go to the spurs.”

    amen to that. but then again, my dislike for Kobe dwarfs my dislike for the Lakers organization in general. do you remember that Mitch Kupchak shot during the game in OKC when they eliminated LA? i could hear him thinking, “great. i’ll have to listen Kobe rant all off-season long” while the “Kidd-Bynum” video plays on repeat in the back of his mind.

  • Ty-Sun

    Nathanael, my advice to you is to hope that Kobe suffers a severe ankle sprain during next year’s playoffs (as much as I dislike Kobe I won’t wish any worse injury on him… or any other player I dislike). I think that Nash could lead Bynum and Gasol to a championship without Kobe. If that were to happen then anything afterward you could always point to Nash as being the REAL difference, not Kobe.

  • cha cha cha

    fun fact: according to basketball-reference, Kobe’s played 10,661 more minutes/111 more games than Nash, not counting All Star Games or international games.

  • MKM


    “This is what I call a family values contract,” Nash’s agent Bill Duffy told USA TODAY Sports. “He was seriously considering retiring so he could remain close to his (three) children.”

    If this is really the case, Nash should definitely stay in PHX! Why can’t the Suns offer Nash a $27 M/3 year contract while they can afford Gordon’s $58 M/4 year contract? The $31 M difference + Marshall should be enough for one more good player (how about Ray Allen?)

  • A-ROCK

    no one mentioned who is going to miss nash most………… Gortat lol
    He will go back to being defensive.

    I told all you busters nash will be gone, I wonder if that fool drinking nashty juice is still following nash to L.A. to drink that nashty juice from under the table hahaha

  • sun also rises

    roflawful @ “busters.” 1994 called, it wants its corny ass kid n’ play slang back.

  • AZRogue

    You know what, I’m happy for Nash. I will even swallow my hatred and wish the Lakers well, should they get a chance at the title (unless we, by some miracle, are playing against them at the time).

    Nash gave us a lot of years of unbelievable, amazingly fun to watch, incredible basketball and I am grateful that I was able to witness it. Nash will always be one of the Suns to me. Now, I really hope he gets a ring. He deserves it. He always gave us 110%. I believe it was the Suns’ management, not Nash, which dropped the ball by not giving Nash the pieces he needed to get a ring in our uniform.

    He deserves his chance and I’m happy for him. And it’s funny to see the Lakers now become “infected” by Steve Nash. Now we know: all those years when Lakers fans were hating on the Suns and Nash, they were just jealous, heh.

    Good luck, Nash. And thanks for the memories.