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.