At 40 years old, Steve Nash still impresses Brown

At 40 years old, Steve Nash still impresses Brown
February 7, 2014, 8:30 pm
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Steve Nash, who turned 40 on Friday, is averaging 6.7 points and 5.4 assists this season. (USA Today Images)

Brett Brown has repeatedly mentioned how he’s coaching the youngest roster in the history of the NBA. He has nine players with two years or less experience in the league.

The youngsters got a taste of an elder statesman Friday night, facing the Lakers and their starting point guard Steve Nash, who celebrated his 40th birthday.

Nash is a 17-year NBA veteran. For perspective, the Sixers’ veterans -- Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes -- have 15 years experienced combined.

“He’s Steve Nash. I don’t care if he is 60, he’s still Steve Nash,” Brown said before Friday’s opening tip. “He is so special and over the years you just couldn’t guard him.”

Nash’s years of averaging 10 assists or more per game -- something he accomplished in seven of his seasons -- may be behind him, but he’s still a dangerous opponent.

“It was so incredible to me how he would sniff a pick-and-roll scheme out,” Brown said.

“I learned over the years that you couldn’t show him a steady diet of anything because he learned how to navigate his way through it.”

Friday’s game was only Nash’s second since Nov. 10. He’s been dealing with back and neck problems.

The past three seasons, father time has caught up to the Canadian point guard. Including this season, Nash has missed 94 games in the last three years. In 10 prior seasons, he missed only 38 games.

“His fitness level plus he is pridefully so intelligent,” Brown said. “I have seen him with Team Canada and his NBA days. He is just one of my personal all-time favorites.”

At 6-foot-3, Nash’s court vision has always been impressive.

“We likened him back in the day to [Wayne] Gretzky where he would get behind the goal and Steve would probe the baseline, baiting people to get sucked in,” Brown said.

“And then he would pick you apart with his three-point shooters. There is a discipline you have to have guarding him, whether it is his floaters or his left hand.”

The Lakers have Nash under contract for one more season.

“He is just so gifted in so many ways,” Brown said. “And I think his background with his dad being a soccer coach, his flexibility, his coordination, he is an interesting case study really.”