Preface: Yeah, this is long. Read it on the toilet, nothing like reading about my childhood on the porcelain throne.
It was probably around 2008 when I really started to get into the NBA. The Bulls had drafted Derrick Rose and Chicago basketball was headed back in the right direction. It couldn't of happened at a better time since I was almost ten and was incredibly impressionable, so I fell in love with the league pretty fast. YouTube highlights, hours of the same episode of "SportsCenter", and NBA Live on my PSP fueled my interest, and it's only grown over time.
The league has changed so much since I first became a fan, and the players from my childhood started getting ushered into retirement a few years ago. There are few things harder to watch than your favorite athletes getting old and eventually not being able to run up and down the court; it's kind of like watching your dog get old, except you don't put down Shaq when he starts taking his time going up the stairs.
On a lighter note, I'd like to reminisce and take a look back at my favorite players from when I was a kid and name them to my All-Childhood First Team. It's an honor that none of these players will ever know about or be able to accept, but I'm gonna do it anyways.
Point Guard: Steve Nash
Career Stats (per game): 1217 G, 14.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 49/42.8/90.4
(Some) Accolades: 2x MVP, 8x All-Star, Basketball Hall of Fame
I don't know why, but I loved the Suns growing up. I used them so much in NBA Live 09; Steve Nash, Shaq, Amar'e, Jason Richardson, Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa, there's too many to name. A "timeless" team that is much better in my memory and that's how I choose to remember it. For so long they were my second-favorite team, but once Nash left and they became a warehouse fire, I kind of jumped ship. I still kind of root for them to pull it together, but I pray for diehard Suns fun. Stay strong, and stick with it.
The best player on the Suns was obviously Steve Nash, and he was so fun to watch. The Suns played fast, and even though I missed the Mike D'Antoni "Six Seconds or Less"-era, they always looked fluid. (A lot of this is probably because I didn't understand a lot of the intricate details of the game and focused on what looked cool, but I was ten, not a professional scout.) Nash was flashy yet calm in his demeanor, and he was an absolute warrior on the floor. He was a great three-point shooter in an era where shooting didn't make-or-break teams and made everyone around him better. 37-year-old(ish) Shaq was an All Star playing next to Nash; if that doesn't say anything about his team-boosting prowess, I don't know what does. I wish I would've had the opportunity to watch actual prime Nash during his back-to-back MVP run, but I loved what I got to see. There were a lot of disheartening early playoff exits, and for years I had to deal with my two favorite teams disappointing me every April and May, but I wouldn't give it back. Every year I could look forward to watching Nash in the All-Star game and I still remember watching him win the Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend 2010. The speech afterwards was inspirational, I think?
When he agreed to go to the Lakers in 2012, I was thrilled. He would be pairing up with Kobe Bryant (my favorite player ever), Pau Gasol, and the newly-acquired Dwight Howard, who was still able to dominate. The results were obviously disappointing and that "superteam" ended up marking the beginning of the end for two of the previously listed three players (Pau was a two-time All-Star with the Bulls after). The fact that Nash lost his career to a pulled back from picking up luggage is so sad, and it still hurts my soul that he had to go down at kind of a low point. <