Professional career Phoenix Suns — After graduating with a degree in sociology,  Nash was selected 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the NBA draft. Upon hearing the draft announcement, Suns fans booed in disapproval of the relatively unknown player.
A major influence in Phoenix's choice was assistant coach Donnie Nelson , who met Nash back in high school as he was coached by Nelson's friend Ken Shields , and would eventually befriend the player as he played in Santa Clara. In his rookie season, Nash only managed Nelson had just taken a job as assistant general manager of the Dallas Mavericks under his father, Don Nelson , and convinced him to acquire the under-utilised Nash.
Nash missed 25 mid-season games due to an ankle injury, but came back to record six double-doubles in the last month of play. Nash now had a supportive environment in which he could thrive. Dallas lost in the Western Conference Semifinals four games to one to the San Antonio Spurs , but it marked the beginning of a memorable run for Nash and the Mavericks.
As a result, he was not selected for the All-Star and All-NBA team rosters even though he achieved new career highs in assists per game 8. In the season before Nash arrived, the Suns had recorded a 29—53 win—loss record,  and they were projected to have another poor season. Head coach Mike D'Antoni favoured an up-tempo style of basketball; this required smaller and more athletic players with the capability to outrun and outshoot their opponents.
Nash's familiarity with this style combined with the athleticism of his teammates produced an NBA-best 62—20 record and a points-per-game average of The Suns had difficulties adapting to this new system, and even a December trade involving sending stalwarts Raja Bell and Boris Diaw to the Charlotte Bobcats for athletic swingman Jason Richardson  saw the team continue to struggle. Porter was then replaced by Alvin Gentry in February after a 28—23 record, but the Suns were unable to secure the final seed for the playoffs ,  resulting in Nash missing the playoffs for the first time since he returned to Phoenix for his second stint.
Behind solid performances by Richardson and veteran Grant Hill , the Suns defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 4—2 in the first round of the playoffs, and swept the Spurs 4—0 in the second round. After losing the first two games, Phoenix won the next two to tie the series. Josh Childress and Hakim Warrick were also recruited to join the Suns.
At the time, he was leading the NBA in assists per game. Despite his stellar play the Suns missed the playoffs for the second consecutive time. He finished the season averaging He was expected to miss at least one week,   but was out of the lineup for close to seven weeks. However, they lost their next four, including a — loss to Houston on 8 January , when Nash assisted on an Antawn Jamison jumper to become the fifth player in NBA history to reach 10, career assists.
The team qualified for the playoffs as the seventh seed,  but were swept 4—0 by San Antonio in the first round. In November, he was sidelined for an estimated minimum of two weeks due to nerve root irritation. On 7 February , his 40th birthday, he scored a season-high 19 points in a victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. He was suffering from a recurrence of nerve problems stemming from an earlier collision to his left leg with Chicago's Kirk Hinrich , and the Lakers wanted to give Kendall Marshall and Jordan Farmar more playing time.
However, Nash returned on 21 March after a groin injury to Farmar that was expected to sideline him a minimum of two weeks. During the preseason, he experienced back pain, and further aggravated his back while lifting luggage. Nash only played in three preseason games before he started to feel more pain in his back.
Nash on injuring his back: I work very hard to stay healthy, and unfortunately my recent setback makes performing at full capacity difficult. I will continue to support my team during this period of rest and will focus on my long-term health.
Nash refused it, due to both his health concerns and wanting to retire as a Laker in gratitude for the opportunity given by the club. Canada was eliminated in the quarterfinals with a five-point loss to France and Nash left the court in tears. Nash expressed disappointment with the result, saying "It hurts a lot. I feel like I let everybody down. We could have been in the championship game.
We were good enough. Nash's Olympic performance propelled him to stardom in Canada and he finished fifth in voting for the Lionel Conacher Award , which is handed out to the Canadian male athlete of the year. He led the tournament in assists and was named tournament MVP ,   but Canada finished fourth, missing out on the three Olympic spots available. That was the last time Nash played for Canada; he was reportedly upset about the firing of head coach Jay Triano in Nash is most noted for his playmaking, ball-handling skills and shooting.
He led the league in assists for five years, averaging I'm a big fan. The two MVPs he got, he deserved. Part of the reason that he's so good and so effective is that the guys like playing with him. He creates an atmosphere where they win games. He is considered one of the best shooters in NBA history.
In terms of specific skills, Nash was particularly effective playing the pick and roll , notably with Nowitzki when he was with the Mavericks and later with the Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. The next season, he led the Suns into the Conference Finals, despite the injuries of all three big men Stoudemire, Kurt Thomas and Brian Grant ; further, Nash was responsible for seven of his teammates attaining career-highs in season scoring.