Steve Nash gives his first interview since being acquired by the Lakers via the Max and Marcellus ESPN LA 710 AM radio show yesterday. Former Laker great Mychal Thompson filled in for Marcellus Wiley.
Here's the full breakdown of the phone interview:
Mychal: Is it shocking that you are now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers?
Nash: It was a surprise for sure. Just ten days ago I said it would be hard for me to put on a Lakers uniform. I think for everyone including myself it's a surprise. Things happen and first and foremost when the Suns decided to go in a new direction, I was obviously looking for a new home and the opportunity to get close to my kids was so exciting to me and I think you guys will agree basketball wise it makes a lot of sense.
Max: Take us through the process Steve, behind the scenes how did the whole thing go down?
Nash: Mitch called my agent shortly after midnight on the 1st. I'm guessing I think the first thing he said is I know that we've had some battles in the playoffs and I hear Steve wouldn't want to play for the Lakers and my agent being an agent said, "Nah that's not true, that's all media speculation", and frankly the idea to be close to my son and my daughters who will be in Phoenix was my number one priority. Now don't get me wrong it's fantastic that you know I think I'm a good fit for the team and they have a great team and we're a contender, that's all incredible too but as far as getting over the hump and being able to be a Laker after being a Sun and trying to beat the Lakers in the playoffs all those years, the reality is it was too good of an opportunity to pass up as far as my children were concerned and fortunate for me it's a great basketball situation.
Max: It has been widely reported that Kobe Bryant called you to recruit you and sell you on the idea, what happened?
Nash: He did. We spoke, I think he was at his basketball camp in Santa Barbara and gave me call. I think for me it was important to speak to him just to make sure he was completely on board and that he can visualize this as being an effective fit and being excited about it so I spoke to him, I spoke to coach Brown. They were excited and Kobe was great, he was excited and explained to me how he thought it would help and why it would be great and I think a lot of the reasons he had were ones that I could already envision before speaking to him...
Max: What were they?
Nash: Well I think for one, somebody to handle the ball and lead. I think he also felt that we're complimentary leaders. I'm more of the positive side, he's more, I think as he said it, crack the whip and that was complimentary. I think pick and roll, adding that to the offense, and being able to space the floor for the big guys inside. I think it's a good fit. He was excited and I think that was important for me and coach Brown the same. It's going to be fun to work it all out and try to create some cohesion and chemistry on the floor and make all those pieces work.
Mychal: Steve you are use to running a free flowing offense in Phoenix for so many years, we all know that Kobe is a ball dominator, when the ball goes to him, it has to go through him a lot, how are you guys going to make that adjustment?
Nash: Well I mean Kobe is still one of the all-time great players in this game and so I hope he does have the ball in his hands a lot but at the same time I think it takes pressure off him if someone else can handle the ball and get him the ball in spots maybe get him a few more easy baskets and at the same time maybe create offense for other guys so he's not stuck so often having to take on one or two defenders. Perhaps we can make each other better because of our different skills. Maybe I can space the floor for those big guys, maybe they'll create opportunities for me on pick and rolls because of their length and ability to finish at the rim and that combination will hopefully make it a little easier for Kobe as well. A lot of work to do and right now we can only speculate and envision but uh you know a lot of work to do and that's going to be the key to any success.
Mychal: At 38 years of age, I mean you play like you're 20 Steve but Phoenix did, Alvin Gentry did a great job in managing your minutes. What's the ideal amount of minutes for you to most effective at?
Nash: That's a good question I mean I think in Phoenix one of the big reasons why Alvin was sensitive to minutes is because of how much I handled the ball. Our offense was predicated on me creating opportunities for my teammates and myself off pick and rolls. For eight years that was predominantly our offense and that can take its toll. He didn't want to wear me out and he tried to be careful in that respect but I feel like I'm in great shape, I know a lot about my body and I think I've learned a lot over the years to preserve hopefully the level of play I'm at right now. I'm not worried about minutes and I think that's something I can get through and I'm not really that concerned with.
Max: Steve you mentioned when you - everybody's been playing you that sound bit I'm sure since you decided to go to the Lakers and ask the Suns for the sign and trade where it's hard to put on a Lakers uniform etc. - you mentioned chasing a championship I believe was the phrase but now it is you know with the Suns rebuilding, you've been such a good soldier, LeBron and them go to Miami, everyone is chasing a championship really, what would it mean to you to win a championship? Can you describe that?
Nash: I don't know if I can. I mean I think if you know there's no question that's why I work hard and I want to be the best player I can so that I can help my team win as many games as I can and if you are part of a team that won the last game of the season I mean that's an indescribable feeling. I try to get stuck into the day to day and try to train as hard as I can everyday. Be thoughtful on what preparation and in new ways to prevent injury, to be in the best shape I can be in and hopefully improve on my skill set so I think that I want to stick to that, I just want to work everyday so I can be ready and be in the best possible place skill wise and fitness wise for when camp starts so that I can help that team the best I can and if we grow everyday as a team and we work and get better and more cohesive we're going to have a chance to win a championship. I don't want to get too far ahead and right now I want to just get my training in the right place so when I come in I'll be in the best possible place to help that team go as far as we can and I think if you look at the pieces, if we can really find a way to come together, everyone stays healthy, and we play at the best of our abilities, we should be in the running.
Max: That is a healthy correct competitive world class athlete answer, let me ask you the unhealthy speculative media question though, as a two-time MVP and one of the greatest players who ever lived, we see so many guys throughout history and the knock against them, well they never won a championship, imagine in your position, part of what would fuel me is the fear that I didn't want to wind up like that, can you talk to that at all?
Nash: You know believe it or not I don't want to diminish what a championship would mean to me but believe it or not that doesn't haunt me at all. I don't care what other people say, I fight everyday to be the best player I can. When I play for the Suns, the Mavericks and now the Lakers I'm going to fight and give everything I can like it's the only thing that matters but when I step away from the court I realize that's not going to defy me. I battle and I compete, I'm a great teammate but having said that I'm dying to win one. I want to win one for me, I want to win one for my teammate who ever they may be and I'm going to battle everyday to do so. I try not to get caught up in what other people are saying or what people will think when I'm long gone and if it's a deterrent, that stuff is kind of out of my hands, within my hands it's just being in great shape and fighting everyday to be the best player I can be for my team so its so all consuming the championship or nothing mentality that everyone has and especially the media, its valid to ask and it's valid for a lot of people get caught up in that but I try to shed away a lot of that extra baggage and things and just try to worry about training and enjoying my training, and enjoying the opportunity I have to continue to compete at a high level and now for the Lakers and be a contender so I want to win, I want to win bad but I'm not going to be haunted by the fact if I retire today I wouldn't be haunted by the fact that I never won. I gave it a heck of a shot.
Mychal: Steve, Mike Brown the Laker coach likes to call a lot of plays, I think with a point guard as smart and as great as you are who understands how to run a team, I think a coach like Brown or any coach should not have to call as many plays, will you talk to Mike and nicely suggest that you can call most of the plays when you're on the floor?
Nash: First of all he's the coach, and I want to do what he asks. I spoke to him and I think he'll' be open to ideas and thoughts and working together. I think that's the great part about the job is that we all get to work together and find a way to make each better and find a way to put each other in position to succeed. There's going to be a balance there I'm sure. I look forward to it, I think he's got a reputation as a terrific defensive coach, I look forward to that and I also look forward to working with him with the offense and seeing how I can hopefully help the offense run more efficiently and help those guys maybe get a little more space on the floor, maybe get more opportunities to get easy baskets and put pressure on the defense.
Mychal: Settle the argument right now for all of our listeners out there, all of the sports fans in L.A. Steve Nash, who has the best point guard in L.A. right now, the Clippers or the Lakers?
Nash: I love Chris Paul, I think he's if not the best top 2 point guard in the game, him and Deron Williams. Nowadays with Russell and Derrick Rose, they're like super guards, I'm not even sure if you can categorize them as point guards but you know there was a time when I could have made an argument for myself for the best point guard in the game but I can leave that to some of the other guys now, I still know that I can do it a extremely high level and I'm still extremely competitive. Let's hope the Lakers are the best team in L.A. and I won't worry about who's the best point guard in L.A.
Max: Steve, there's been a lot of speculation in town given the kind of redundancy in big men the Lakers have, two such good ones, that Dwight Howard in fact it's been widely reported at this point is a target of the Lakers, it's been reported that a phone call didn't go so great between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant last year, will you try to recruit, excuse me, what are your thoughts on recruiting Dwight Howard to L.A.?
Nash: Well I mean he's a special player, special talent for sure, so I can understand why the Lakers may be recruiting him but I like for me to get the opportunity to play with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, that's amazing so that will be a pleasure to play with those two players and frankly that's a lot for me to think of right there. I'm not even going to speculate on what can happen with Dwight, as far as basketball goes it would be thrilling for any point guard to get chance to play with the two big men that the Lakers have.
Max: If Dwight Howard call you what would you tell him?
Nash: As far as if I were recruiting him to the Lakers?
Max: Ya, he called you and said, "Hey I'm thinking about asking to be traded to the Lakers maybe extending" what would you tell him?
Nash: Why don't we wait until I sign my contract and get acquainted to the city and the situation before I start to making trades and recruiting players. Like I said I'm thrilled to play with the player of the ability of Pau and Andrew. That's thrilling to me, outright, so look forward to making it official hopefully on the 11th or whenever that day is.
Max: Steve, when you joined the Lakers, one of the issues is, so many numbers are retired. Wilt Chamberlain was number 13, that's gone. You wore 7 in Canada, 11 in college, Mychal Thompson had 43, do you want take Mychal Thompson's number? What number are you going to get?
Nash: That's a good question, I have to think it through. 43 is very, very enticing but I'm going to think it through. I just realized last night that of course Wilt wore 13 but that's okay. Change is good, actually with all of the Lakers jerseys retired, I don't know what's left. We'll figure it out.
Mychal: Steve, I know you said you're going to just let things go the way they're at now as far as the make up of the team but there is a player out there you can talk to about trying to convince to come join you, he is a free agent also, of course talking about your former teammate, the great Grant Hill in Phoenix. I hear you may be trying to talk him into coming over to join the Lakers. We can use a player like Grant.
Nash: First of all Grant is an amazing person. He's a very intelligent, kind and thoughtful person and he's still a terrific basketball player. Great athlete, still terrific skill level, and basketball IQ and just a great teammate. Anyone who gets Grant is going to be way, way in the good for that. He'll be great if we can get him. I'll do anything I can if the Lakers are open to that to make it a reality. He makes every team better, he makes every around him better, he makes any organization better. He's a class act, and still a heck of a competitor and player.
Max: Boy when the media gets a hold of you they don't let you go do they Steve? Let me ask you one more thing here, I understand...
Nash: Who else do you guys want me to trade for?
Max: Exactly, no, the western conference is extremely deep but the defending western conference champions are the Thunder, their nucleus is young, they're favored to repeat as western conference champions, what are your thoughts of the Thunder and with your addition to the team how you guys match up with Oklahoma City?
Nash: Well they're a terrific team and they rightfully are the favorites to repeat in the west. We definitely have our work cut out for us if we're going to be able to compete with them and beat them. I think there's a lot of potential with our roster and I think hopefully I'll be able to make some positive adjustments to the efficiency and effectiveness of all our guys offensively. Who knows, they are younger that's for sure, than some of us I'll say but I'm looking forward to the challenge and I think that together we can find a way to make each other better and improve on the Lakers series with them this past season.
Mychal: Last question for me Steve because I know you're a busy man trying to keep things organized, you have to go, obviously everyone knows there's a big rivalry between the Suns and the Lakers throughout history, how are the Suns fans taking the news that you're now going to be a Laker? Are they understanding of your decision?
Nash: Well I've had an outpouring of text messages, emails, responses from people thanking me for my eight years there but there's no doubt there's going to be some Suns fans that are devastated and angry at me and I understand that you know but what I'll say about that is that I gave everything I had for the Suns and when the Suns, rightfully moved in a new direction that I wasn't a part of, that's a great move, a strong move for them to cut ties and to be bold and to try to bring in fresh new talent and start the rebuilding process or retooling process, I respect that. Robert Sarver really did something fantastic for me and my family to allow me to go to what's Phoenix's biggest rival. I will always be grateful for that, for him and I will always be grateful to Suns fans for the incredible support over the eight years and a lot of success. The bottom line is I hate to upset people but my little boy and my two girls mean everything to me, the opportunity to be able to see them 3 or 4 times a month instead of 3 or 4 times a season is incredible and priceless. I'm sorry for those that I've upset but my kids come first.
Max: Steve you've made a lot of people here in L.A. very happy. Congratulations for you, you get to see your kids now, play in L.A. with Kobe Bryant. You're the perfect addition to this team, we've been talking about it for at least for a month now, I've been lobbying for the Lakers to try and nab you into that trade exception. Thank you so much for coming to L.A. and we really look forward to you playing and talking to you again in the near future.
Nash: I really appreciate it guys. Looking forward to it.