In case you’ve been under a rock, or just ignoring the Phoenix Suns this season, Steve Nash will make his return to the Valley Wednesday night as a member of the hated Los Angeles Lakers.
Most knew that Nash’s departure from Phoenix, whenever it happened, would change the appearance of the Suns roster and direction of the organization. It has. Phoenix is 15-30 and tied with the New Orleans Hornets for the worst record in the Western Conference.
Predictably, it’s not only fans who miss seeing Nash in purple and orange. Count Suns center Marcin Gortat in that category, too.
“I miss Steve,” he said. “I’m not going to deny it. I do miss him, I miss him a lot.”
Gortat, who was on the receiving end of many a pick-and-roll assist from Nash, has seen his scoring average decrease by nearly four points per game this season while playing the same number of minutes.
“I didn’t believe it was going to be like that this year,” Gortat said. “Last year when we were finishing the season and people were talking about Steve leaving the team, I was like ‘at the end of the day, if he leaves, I’ll be fine anyway’. Well, it’s different.”
Gortat’s stats aren’t the only difference for the Suns Nash. Through 45 games a year ago, Phoenix was 23-22 and attendance at US Airways Center this season has slipped by over 600 fans per game.
“Right next to Charles Barkley, he’s probably the second-most important person in this franchise,” Gortat said about his former teammate. “He was great, he’s a great role model, on the court, off the court. I mean hands down, the guy is just super good, super great.”