Steve Nash is one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game. A two-time MVP, eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA performer and five-time assist champion, Nash will be recognized for his excellence later this week when he's inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
But even after a spectacular career with the Suns and Mavericks (let's just pretend the Lakers thing never happened), Nash still has some regrets. For one, he never won a title, but that was often out of his control. One thing he did have control over, however, was how often he shot the ball, and he wishes he did that a lot more. Like, as in taking almost double his normal shot attempts.
In a recent interview ahead of his induction into the HOF, Nash said he really should have been taking 20 shots a night. Via ESPN:
"My personality was to feed my teammates, and I loved getting in the seams and being creative and making the game fun for my teammates," Nash said. "But Nellie frankly said, 'That's bulls---. You're a better shooter than these guys. I want you shooting the ball.'
"Nellie [launched] my career in pushing me to be aggressive and score the ball. But I never took it to the heights that the numbers validate in today's day and age, where I probably should have shot the ball 20 times a game. It probably would have made a lot more sense."
Nash's coaches agreed. His Mavericks coach, Don Nelson, relayed a funny anecdote that he once threatened to fine Nash if he wasn't shooting enough.
Nelson firmly believed that Nash's hesitancy was costing the Mavs wins. Finally, the coach decided that it would cost Nash money if it didn't change.
"We had a situation where I demanded that he shoot at least 10 times a game," Nelson said. "I threatened to fine him if he didn't."
And his Suns coach, Mike D'Antoni, says Nash probably could have averaged 30 points a night for his squad.
"Nash was a purist," said Mike D'Antoni, who coached Nash with the Suns from 2004 to 2008. "Steve's a Hall of Fame point guard. He was unbelievably good. I just think instead of averaging 15 or 16 [points], he could have averaged 30 for us.
The game was much different during Nash's prime than it is today, but given his efficiency as a shooter, it's hard to argue with these thoughts. He was a member of the vaunted 50/40/90 club (50 percent field-goal percentage, 40 percent 3-point field-goal percentage, 90 percent free-throw percentage) four different times during his career. To put that in perspective, since 3-pointers became part of the game, only seven players have achieved that feat. No one has done it more than Nash, and Larry Bird is the only player besides Nash to have done it more than once.
For his career, Nash shot 49 percent from the field, 42.8 percent from 3-point land and 90.4 percent from the free-throw line -- all remarkable numbers. And all proof that his teams probably would have been better off with Nash letting his shot fly more often.