NASH IN HIS OWN WORLD

In case you had forgotten, this is why you’ll be telling your kids about Steve Nash 15 years from now.

By then the NBA will undoubtedly be taken over by the LeBron effect, and the debates will be raging as to where he, Kobe and MJ stand among the greatest all-time. And as far as point guards go, Chris Paul and Deron Williams will be the names rolling off the tongues of our youth.

But you need remember the start of this season, because you might not see something like Nash again before you croak in 50 (well, for me, 80) years.

It’s only been 17 games, and lord knows the first 17 games in an NBA season are soon going to be long forgotten, just like all those ridiculous conclusions people draw from April baseball.

But this is an exception.

In 17 games Nash has his Phoenix Suns at 14-3. Again, a meaningless record unless it keeps holding strong into the spring and the Suns prove they can stand up with the big dogs – starting Wednesday against Cleveland and former Sun Shaquille O’Neal. Still, most players still bust it (correction: give 75 percent) during the first 20 games because of fresh legs and an eagerness to start the season. Walk-it-up, 84-71 Spurs wins in February are still a couple months away, and thank God.

Nash is 35 now, with a ticking time bomb for a back that inevitably acts up at some point every season. Almost unanimously people agree the Suns missed their window to grab a title with a younger Nash back during the middle of the Mike D’Antoni era that semi-revolutionized offensive basketball in the NBA.

Apparently though, someone forgot to tell Nash.

Now that D’Antoni is departed to New York (Steve Kerr’s worst move as a GM, though you have to love his boldness), it’s time to stop putting all of Nash’s career under the “Seven Seconds of Less” (incredible book) lens and consider the body of work outside of it. He’s now on his third coach in three years, and for some God forsaken reason remained loyal to an organization that has consistently cut up his team, traded his best weapons and then, for the real killer, made him try and convert a moody Shaq into a fast-break player – really thought it was going to work.

And yet, he’s got this team winning. Maybe you don’t remember who is on this Suns team — Jason Richardson, Channing Frye and Grant Hill for starters.

Richardson’s career seemed destined to be a decent scorer on some terrible Warriors teams before a move to Charlotte, where NBA careers go to die. Now he’s putting up 17.7 a game and shooting 52.4 percent despite never going higher than 46.5 in his career.

Frye was a promising rookie who didn’t really fit into anyone’s system, and Hill is the dinosaur with a straight-up 90s game that refuses to believe his career will be defined by his ridiculous one-handed alley-oop as a Duke freshman in the national championship (It will Grant, but we love you to death for trying).

Yes, superstar forward Amar’e Stoudemire is still around, though it’s debatable whether his career would have reached this point so quickly had he not entered Nash’s world as a raw high-schooler. But outside of him, we’re not talking about any world beaters, future Greatest 50 members, etc.

Still not sold? Well then it’s time for the clincher. The Jared Dudley effect.

Jared Dudley tries hard. Very hard. Granted, he looks like he’s about to die out there because of the way he moves, but the effort cannot be called into question.

Jared Dudley would also have his rear end nailed to the bench for most of the game on the NBA’s 29 other teams. Jared Dudley is barely athletic enough for the NBA, certainly is not tall enough to play where he should (6-foot-7), and absolutely peaked as an offensive scorer while at Boston College.

Jared Dudley is currently averaging 22.4 minutes, 8.9 points and shooting 45.8 percent from downtown for the Suns.

Nash should start an academy — The How to Become Overrated Institution, with notable alumni such as Tim Thomas, Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw. Can you imagine how quickly Darius Miles would enroll?

And still, his statistics have risen this year with 16.4 points a game and 12.1 helpers – nothing less that what we’ve come to expect.

No, this Suns team probably won’t run the table, and yes, its defense (along with Nash’s) will again be called into question as the season goes along. But for these 17 games, Nash has once again shown that he’s still capable of taking a bunch of misfits and turning them into one of the league’s better teams. Seriously, it’s some sort of insane instant recipe – grab random assortment of players and add Nash for a winning season.

So let’s dispense with the ridiculous criticisms about how his reputation has been made by the Phoenix style of play, and enjoy the twilight of a Hall of Fame career that still doesn’t seem ready to end. It’s not because of “the system,” or any of that junk.

As this season is showing, Nash is the system.

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