LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers guard Steve Nash announced his retirement Saturday, quietly ending a 19-year NBA career that included two MVP awards.
After playing in just 65 games over the past three seasons due to injuries, the 41-year-old Canadian playmaker formalized his departure with a letter on The Players’ Tribune, a website where he is a senior producer.
“I will likely never play basketball again,” wrote Nash, who hasn’t played this season. “It’s bittersweet. I already miss the game deeply, but I’m also really excited to learn to do something else.”
The eight-time All-Star is third in NBA history with 10,335 assists, trailing only John Stockton and Jason Kidd. Nash also is the best free-throw shooter in NBA history at 90.4 percent, barely edging Mark Price.
While thanking a lengthy list of former teammates and influential mentors in his letter, Nash wrote of his lifelong love for basketball and his relentless desire for improvement.
“The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much — visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes,” Nash wrote. “The obsession became my best friend.”
Although his career wound down awkwardly with the Lakers, Nash will be remembered for his incredible prime with the Phoenix Suns. The speedy, sharp-shooting point guard changed the professional game and won the league MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 during a dominant stretch as the catalyst for coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense.
“It will always hurt that Phoenix Suns fans didn’t get the championship they deserved during our run,” said Nash, who spent 10 seasons in Phoenix during two tenures with the team.
“Yes, we had some bad luck, but I always look back at it and think, ‘I could’ve made one more shot, or not forced a turnover, or made a better pass.’ But I don’t regret anything. The arena was always sold out and rocking. It was the time of my life.”
Nash was born in South Africa but grew up in British Columbia and starred in college at Santa Clara. After starting his NBA career with two quiet years in Phoenix, he rose to prominence with the Dallas Mavericks during the 2000-01 season alongside Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki, reaching the Western Conference finals.
After re-signing with Phoenix, Nash and D’Antoni led the Suns to the conference finals again, but repeatedly fell short of the NBA finals in painful fashion. Nash led the NBA in assists five times in seven seasons while scoring at least 14.7 points per game in each year, and he became one of just 10 players in league history to win consecutive MVP awards.