Nash became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach 10,000 career assists Tuesday, reaching the milestone late in the first half of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 125-112 loss to the Houston Rockets.
“If I take a step back, it’s another example of a fairy-tale career, but it’s really hard to enjoy it right now,” Nash said after the Lakers’ fourth straight loss, which dropped their overall record to 15-19.
“I don’t want to discredit it; I don’t want to not appreciate the company I share in this milestone. But right now, that’s the farthest thing from my mind. I’m just trying to find a way to win one game.”
The 38-year-old Nash also admitted he has seriously considered the possibility that the Lakers, despite all their preseason hype and championship aspirations, might not even make the playoffs this season.
“That motivates me every day,” Nash said. “There’s no guarantee [that the Lakers make the playoffs]. I think three or four weeks ago, people would have said, ‘Ah, it will get better.’ Now I definitely don’t think there’s a guarantee it will, so the only remedy is continue to work hard and give yourself a chance for it to get better.
“I obviously think with time, and that might mean through the summer, we can get better. But for this season, it’s definitely going to be a challenge to turn this around. … We got a number of things we got to try to improve on to get better, but one thing that we can’t accept is to take our foot off the gas and accept things. We got to continue to fight.”
Kobe Bryant, who entered the NBA in the same 1996 draft class as Nash, can commiserate.
“We were walking around at shoot around, and we just kind of looked at each other, and I said to him, ‘We thought it was going to be easier this year for once,'” Bryant said with a laugh.
Bryant refused to succumb to the circumstances, however.
“[Nash] is a little more reasonable than I am,” Bryant said. “That’s how we kind of bounce off of each other. I’m as stubborn as a mule. I’m going to keep driving this thing forward and so is he, but he tends to have more perspective than I do.”
Bryant, who last month became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach 30,000 career points, took time to reflect on Nash’s accomplishment despite the Lakers’ predicament.
“That’s incredible,” Bryant said. “You should kind of step back and look at the big picture of what he’s done. What, five players have done that? That’s amazing to come where he’s come from and to be able to accomplish that. You can’t lose sight of what that number means.”
Bryant later tweeted, “I have to step outside of this frustration and say congrats to @SteveNash 10,000. Amazing accomplishment Wish we could have gotten u the W.”
Nash joined John Stockton (15,806), the New York Knicks‘ Jason Kidd (11,969 and counting), Mark Jackson (10,334) and Magic Johnson (10,141) in the exclusive club.
After the game, Nash was asked whether he planned to catch any of the players ahead of him on the list.
“I’m honestly telling you, I don’t know what the numbers are next,” the two-time MVP said.
When informed Stockton had more than 15,000 assists, Nash replied with a smile, “So, that’s no.”
How about Jackson or Johnson?
“I guess I’ll probably climb a couple spots then if those guys aren’t playing,” Nash said. “If they come out of retirement, it might make it hard on me.”
Nash recorded his 10,000th assist with a pass to Antawn Jamison, who made a layup with 29.1 seconds left in the second quarter.
Jamison, approaching the 20,000-point milestone, was honored to be the recipient of the record-setting pass.
“That’s not bad at all,” Jamison said. “He’s definitely a Hall of Famer and one of the best point guards to ever play, especially in my generation.”
Lakers equipment manager Carlos Maples secured the game ball from Nash’s historic assist and planned to present it to the point guard after the game.
What will Nash do with the ball?
“Usually my 2-year-old ends up dribbling it around the house,” Nash said.