As age takes its toll on his durability, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash knows the next few weeks will be an adjustment period. While most players his age are long retired, he's embracing the challenges that come along with playing your 18th NBA season.
"I am 39. I’ll be 40 in a few months. So you have to adapt your mindset to the new challenge," Nash said to Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding after the Lakers'91-85 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday." This is where I’m at. I have to get on top of my body, and I’ve got to let my game come around."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni decided to bench one of his longtime favorite players on Friday in favor of younger options Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks. For Nash, a two-time MVP now in the twilight of his likely Hall of Fame career, sore legs and poor performance provided obvious reasons for D'Antoni's decision.
And yet, these moments stand as learning experiences for someone typically tasked with leading teams in the waning moments of close games. More than anything, Nash realizes that the days of 35-plus minutes are long gone, replaced with nights of pacing himself and recognizing when to let the younger players take charge.
"It’s going to take more patience than usual, and it’s going to take maybe less work and more rest," Nash told Ding. "I really have to check myself a lot as far as my typical approach to things to not overdo and not put myself back because I’m overdoing it or I’m trying for too much. This is where I am. I’ve got to accept some of that -- and not give an inch when it comes to my belief."
Even after two poor performances to begin the season, Nash's confidence in his own skills hasn't wavered yet. And given his history with D'Antoni in particular, along with the Lakers' sad state, you can expect him to get many more opportunities this season to show he's still capable of helping an NBA team.
"The want is there; I’m still enjoying the challenge. It comes from within. I know what I’ve been through; I know how old I am and the miles I have on the body, but I still take the challenge. And there are still things I can build on and can improve," Nash told Ding.