LOS ANGELES - Steve Nash could have earned more money while enjoying the twilight of his remarkable NBA career in Manhattan, his offseason home. Or he could have returned to Canada, finishing up his playing days in Toronto with an eye toward national history and another career in the front office.
Instead, the two-time MVP point guard is going Hollywood.
Nash is teaming up with Kobe Bryant and whatever 7-foot stars end up with the Los Angeles Lakers for at least a few more seasons of title contention on the best team within a short flight of Phoenix, where his three children live.
So what if the Lakers have been among his biggest rivals throughout his entire NBA career with Dallas and Phoenix?
So what if he’ll be in a backcourt with a ball-dominating superstar who has never shared possession with a point guard of Nash’s abilities?
So what if he can’t wear No. 13, which is hanging in the Staples Center rafters with Wilt Chamberlain’s name forever attached to it?
Children and championships trumped everything else in Nash’s mind when he agreed to a sign-and-trade deal that will put him in purple and gold next week.
‘’The idea to be close to my son, my daughters, who will be in Phoenix, was the No. 1 priority,’’ Nash told ESPN’s Los Angeles station Thursday.
‘’Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic,’’ he added. ‘’I think I’m a good fit for the team, and we have a great team, we’re a contender, that’s all incredible, too.
But as far as getting over the hump and being able to be a Laker after being a Sun and trying to beat the Lakers in the playoffs all those years, the reality is it was too great of an opportunity to pass up as far as my children were concerned. And fortunately for me, it’s a great basketball situation.’’
The 38-year-old Canadian says he spoke to Bryant by phone Monday to see whether he wanted to work together.
Bryant took a break from his basketball camp in Santa Barbara to confirm he thinks Nash would be a perfect fit in the Lakers’ backcourt, providing a dimension they never possessed even in Derek Fisher’s best years - a playmaking talent Los Angeles hasn’t seen since Magic Johnson was running the show.
Nash said Bryant thinks he can be ‘’somebody to handle the ball and lead. He also felt that we were complementary leaders.
I’m more on the positive side, he’s more ... I think as he said it, cracks the whip. I think pick-and-roll, adding that to the offense and being able to space the floor for the big guys inside, I think it’s a good fit. He was excited, and I think that was important for me.
It’s going to be fun to work it all out and try to create some cohesion and chemistry on the floor and make all these pieces work.’’
The rest of those pieces are similarly overjoyed at the prospect of playing with Nash, even if the club can’t officially acknowledge the deal until the free agency moratorium ends next week.
About seven months after the Lakers’ efforts to get Chris Paul were squashed by the NBA, they turned a trade exception acquired during that fiasco into Nash.