This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's April 13 Point Guard Issue. Subscribe today!
We gave the visionary point guard a pen and a mission: Illustrate the theories that drove his game-changing MVP career. Here's the result, straight from the mind of Steve Nash ...
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1. Nash ran the offense that changed the NBA -- and the point guard position -- forever. And when we asked how he saw the game, he began with this sketch. The pre-Nash NBA, you see, was all about overwhelming opponents with mismatches. But Nash's game wasn't about finding spots where great players were guarded by inferior ones; it was about finding spots where good players were guarded by nobody at all. His brain was the supercomputer behind it all, seeking in real time the highest-quality shots, namely: those at the rim and in the corner, where the closer 3-pointers are more likely to go in.
2. Nash calls this one his go-to play. But what's with the funny name? Nash would signal it to teammates by raising a fist and tugging on his shorts. Why? "I don't know. Maybe it's 'cause there's a shortcut?"
3. The basis of the scheme: the high screen. Nash unveils its options. "You get a free run at the big; you look to see if you can get him on his heels. If you can score on him, score. If you're open to shoot, shoot. If you drive, the deeper you take that big into the paint, the more you force the weakside D to overrotate to help. Then you have an open shooter on the weak side." See? Easy game.
4. Who's that guy? That's Mike D'Antoni, Nash's Suns coach, who famously failed to win the title that might have validated the principles on these pages. That validation came, ironically, from Nash's nemesis, San Antonio, which crushed the Heat in the 2014 Finals with a system that looked a hell of a lot like the Suns' -- and now informs the very best offenses in the NBA.
5. Where did all his game grow? Nash says his hardwood ways first took root on the pitch. "Soccer is about leading teammates to where they have space, time -- and an advantage."
6. What's the life of a PG like? A bit smashy, actually. As Nash sketches on the dining room table, his girlfriend suggests he draw one of his many broken noses. How many? he's asked. "More than I can count." And no use scouring injury reports for the number; many of them were never reported. Sooooo Canadian.