Steve Nash to the Los Angeles Freaking Lakers? Talk about a gut punch. After all these years talking about his love for the fans, being Mr. Old School, expressing loyalty and what not. All a bunch of noise.
To be clear, I don't blame Steve Nash for leaving Phoenix. It's pretty obvious by the paltry offer the Suns (reportedly) made, they had no intention of bringing him back despite repeated assurances that they wanted him back.
Nash has EARNED the right to leave. No question.
But the Los Angeles Freaking Lakers?
Fans outside of Phoenix might not get it, but there is NO OTHER team more hated than the Lakers. This isn't a rivalry in the sense that there's mutual distaste. This is a full-on, one-sided inferiority complex stemming from the first postseason meeting in 1970. (All the gory details here).
It's always been the Lakers with their smug, entitled fans and far more talented players that have sat just a few hours to the west lording their superiority over their lesser desert cousins.
These are painful scars for Phoenix fans.
These are the kinds of deep-seated resentments that only years of therapy can save from a lifetime of hard drinking and self destructive behaviors.
The Suns were the first pro team to come to Phoenix (thanks, Jerry!) and the Lakers are their oldest enemy.
For Steve Nash to pick the Purple and Gold as his final uniform is a knife to the back of those fans who embraced his return after being discarded by Dallas.
Nash is spinning this as wanting to be close to his kids. I don't buy that. He can be in New York during the offseason, but can't pay to fly his kids to New York or Toronto during the rest of the year? No. This decision is about his post-playing career and his desire to be in L.A.
In time, the pain will diminish but when Steve Nash takes the U.S. Airways Center floor next season as an L.A. Laker, he will be greeted with heated boos and not the standing ovation he would have otherwise received had he made any decision other than the Los Angeles Freaking Lakers.
As for the Suns front office, they don't know any better.
Lance Blanks. Lon Babby. They are not from around here. They have no connection to the history of this town. They made a lawyerly decision to get the best deal possible.
They made a transaction that netted two first round picks and two second round picks from a team that won't be anywhere close to the lottery when those picks come due. But that transaction cost them a chance to build a relationship with their fans.
I don't know if this is an Unforgivable Sin, but the Suns have a long, long road to redemption.
[UPDATE by Seth Pollack, 07/04/12 7:09 PM MST ]
Link to Nash's CAREFULLY crafted statement on The Decision.