Steve Nash's brilliant career is winding down and he could lose a full season of his twilight if the NBA lockout wipes out the 2011-12 season.
Nash, a minority owner of Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps, stopped by the club's suburban training grounds Tuesday to practise with his employees and talk to media members, but he wasn't hopeful that NBA training camps would begin on time. The 37-year-old said that some pressure points are on the horizon, and that compromise is possible if both sides make some concessions.
Barring that, it could be a long time before the Canadian superstar returns to the court.
"It looks like, right now, we probably won't start on time," said the two-time NBA most valuable player. "Hopefully, as we get into the time of year where everyone is missing basketball, than we can all start to kind of concede on some points that each other is looking for, and find a middle ground. That would be the best of both worlds and we can get back to work relatively quickly."
The Phoenix Suns missed the playoffs last year for the second time in three seasons, and other than a surprise appearance in the 2010 Western Conference final, the franchise's decline has been several years in the making, and has brought about questions of whether it can return to prominence before Nash retires. While many believe Nash's only chance to win a championship would come with a trade to a contender, the Victoria-raised point guard is still hopeful that the Suns can pull a rabbit from their hat.
"I think we definitely can get back, but obviously we need to improve our roster a little bit," he said. "As it stands now, we're probably a player or two short. But we've seen many teams win championships by acquiring a Pau Gasol [Los Angeles Lakers] or a Tyson Chandler [Dallas Mavericks]or a Rasheed Wallace [Detroit Pistons] whether it's at the deadline or the summer. So, if we can somehow happen across a player of that calibre, it would be great."
Nash said he does not dwell on what the lockout could mean to his championship quest, or to the denouement of his career. He said he intends on staying in shape in case a resolution is reached, and The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the sides plan to meet Wednesday in New York, only the third session between top-level negotiators since the lockout began on July 1.
Nash said that if he knew the lockout would delay the start of the season, then he could have played for Canada at the FIBA Americas tournament in Argentina this month, which serves as a qualifier for the 2012 London Olympics. Ironically, as Nash was holding court in Vancouver, the Canadians were in the middle of losing an important game to Puerto Rico in Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Nash hasn't played for Canada since 2004, saying that the demands of the NBA season make it too difficult to commit to the national team in the summer.
"It's a shame that now we have a lockout, and potentially, I could've played," he said. "But I didn't know if the lockout was going to go on this long, I didn't know how fit I would've been at that stage. … It just wasn't feasible."
Nash's appearance in Vancouver was no accident. The Whitecaps are in the midst of a season-ticket campaign for the 2012 season, and need to muster as much goodwill as possible after a trying expansion season in which the team has just four wins in 26 MLS games.
"We're disappointed that we only have a few wins to date, but I think if you look at it, it's always going to be difficult in an expansion year," Nash said. "Overall, it's been a difficult year because we lost some of those close ones, and it kind of avalanched."