In part four of Grantland’s documentary The Finish Line, former running buddies Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki sat down and played the always unsatisfying game of ‘What if?”. What if Nash never left Dallas? What if he returned later in his career? The two finally talked years after the departure to discuss hypotheticals that regular DFW sports bar patrons have explored numerous times.
The two admit their time apart allowed them to grow into their full potential, however with three MVP awards between them, it is hard to not think about what kind of run the Mavericks could have gone on. Friend and current Mavericks Equipment Manager Al Whitley likened the two stars to a present day Stockton/Malone- a lofty but potentially a fair comparison had the two stayed together longer. Now, history remembers the Jazz dynamic duo as two of the greatest players to never win a championship. Would Nash and Nowitzki suffered the same fate?
When Nash left in 2004, the Lakers were dismantling, the Kings weren’t the power they used to be, the Mavs were riding high and the only thing standing in the way in the Western Conference were the Spurs. At dinner, the Nash and Nowitzki also contemplate how things would have shaped up in the West. Dirk made it to two different Finals with two completely different teams. Who’s to say if Nash wasn’t around they could have held on and won the 2006 series against the heat? Who’s to say the couldn’t have won multiple championships?
Maybe it’s because I still own and wear my 2001 Road Blue Steve Nash jersey, but I’d like to think that somewhere in some alternate universe that Nash never left, him and Nowitzki remained teammates for years, and we’d have 41 and 13 hanging in the rafters of the AAC.