Steve Nash won't 'give in too soon'

Updated: November 22, 2013, 11:05 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Steve Nash is not considering retirement as he continues to try to return from the nerve root irritation in his back and hamstrings that has sidelined him for nearly two weeks.

Rather, the Los Angeles Lakers guard is focusing on the final "18 months" of basketball left in what has been a brilliant career.

"No," Nash said after Lakers shootaround Friday in advance of their game against the Golden State Warriors when asked whether retirement has crossed his mind. "Not at all. I don't know where that came from. For me, I realize I have about 18 months left of basketball. I want the most out of this that I can possibly get. I don't know if that's going to be one game or the vast majority of what's left.

"But I've got a long life without basketball so I don't want to give in too soon. I want to try to make the most of this opportunity to play, if I can."

Nash plans to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, next week with his personal trainer, Rick Celebrini, to undergo rehab on his back and hamstrings while the Lakers are on a three-game trip to Washington, Brooklyn and Detroit.

Nash exited the Lakers' loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 10 at halftime and has not played since. He received an epidural injection two days later to try to soothe the discomfort he is feeling and has slowly ramped up his rehab since then.

"A little bit better," Nash said of his progress since going out of the lineup. "Some improvement. I'm not sure that the epidural necessarily helped, but just doing some physical therapy and getting a little bit of relief, and hopefully I can just keep inching forward."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni pointed to the Lakers' next gap in the schedule without a game -- Dec. 2-5 -- as a potential time when Nash might return to practice.

"It would be great," Nash said. "What's that, a week, 10 days [from now] kind of thing? It'd be great. But I don't know."

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant underwent treatment for his left Achilles during shootaround and is "out" for Friday's game against the Warriors, according to D'Antoni.

Bryant sat out Thursday's practice after going through three practices in five days in his initial foray back to the court after Achilles surgery nearly seven months ago.

"It was kind of good that he backed off just a hair so that we could have one practice with the team we're going to play with," D'Antoni said.

Lakers guard Jodie Meeks, who is starting in Bryant's place at shooting guard and leading the team in scoring, said Bryant has already made an impact even if he is not quite game ready.

"He changes our whole demeanor," Meeks said. "I think he's helped out the past couple practices that we've had and we're playing pretty well."

Nash, 39, is averaging 7.6 points and 5.2 assists per game this season while shooting 27.6 percent from the field. He has two years remaining on his contract with the Lakers, set to pay him $9.4 million this season and $9.7 million next season.

"The way I look at it is, I feel like I can get back to health, it's just how sustainable is it with all of the unpredictable forces and demands on my back?" Nash said. "So, I want to make sure I'm not racing to get back but trying to really solve this problem as well as I can so I can sustain whenever I do come back."

Nash called the retirement speculation "inevitable" at this point in his career.

"I'm 40 in a couple of months," said Nash, who is the oldest player in the NBA. "I think people look at the success I've had in my career and they wonder if I still have the motivation just to get on the court. But I do. The perspective is that I've only got a short window of basketball left in my life. I want to try to get in as much hoops as I can before it's time to do something else."

The focus of Nash's training session with Celebrini next week will be making sure his body is properly aligned and freeing his movements so they are not compromised by the injuries he is dealing with.

"When I'm in alignment and moving properly, it really takes a lot of pressure off the nerve," said Nash, who again pointed to the "unlucky" play when he suffered a fracture in his left leg against Portland last season as the domino that has caused all of his health problems.

"It is a challenge and I don't give in, but I definitely look at it with a little more realism and try as hard as possible not to be in complete denial that there are things going on and that I am different so I have to try to find a way to get as close to my best physically, but I also realize that there's a really small window of error to get there," said Nash, who joked that he would be able to play if the NBA accommodated him with a one game per week schedule. "I think I can get there sometimes, but how can I get back there at this point and sustain that with any sort of consistency? That's [what makes] it such a deep two-fold, three-fold, multifold challenge at this point."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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