NBA All-Star Steve Nash retires after 19 seasons

Point guard Steve Nash announced his retirement Saturday after a 19-year NBA career that included two MVP awards.

Nash, 41, made the announcement in a letter on The Players’ Tribune website.

Nash’s back injury prevented him from playing this season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He played in only 65 games over the last three seasons with the Lakers because of injuries.

“The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much — visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes,” Nash wrote on the website. “The obsession became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her and got knocked on my a— by her.

“And that is what I’m most thankful for in my career. In my entire life, in some ways. Obviously, I value my kids and my family more than the game, but in some ways having this friend — this ever-present pursuit — has made me who I am, taught me and tested me, and given me a mission that feels irreplaceable. I am so thankful. I’ve learned so many invaluable lessons about myself and about life. And of course I still have so much to learn. Another incredible gift.”

Nash won MVP awards in 2005 and 2006 while playing for the Phoenix Suns. In his career, he averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 assists in 1,217 games.

Nash, an eight-time All-Star, is third in NBA history with 10,335 assists, trailing John Stockton and Jason Kidd. Nash also is the best free-throw shooter in NBA history at 90.4 percent.

“To now realize that it’s over, it’s really difficult to put it into words,” Nash told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein in a “SportsCenter” sitdown that aired after Nash’s announcement Saturday.

“It’s just a weird transition. Every athlete goes through it. A lot of people say an athlete dies twice and in some ways, without being salacious, that’ true. If you want to enjoy and be happy in life, you have in some ways to say goodbye to your former self. And that’s not easy, especially for guys. We’re not the most communicative of the species. So it’s hard to kind of put it all in perspective.”

The Lakers in 2012 gave Nash a three-year, $28 million deal and hurt their future by shipping four draft picks to Phoenix.

“When I signed with the Lakers, I had big dreams of lifting the fans up and lighting this city on fire,” Nash wrote. “I turned down more lucrative offers to come to L.A. because I wanted to be in the ‘fire,’ and play for high risk and high reward in my last NBA chapter. In my second game here, I broke my leg and nothing was the same.

“Last spring, when I returned to the court, I was given a standing ovation at Staples Center. It was a dark time in my career and that gesture will be one of my best memories. There’s been a lot of negativity online, but in my nearly three years in L.A., I’ve never met anyone who didn’t show me anything but love and support for my efforts.”

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