By all indications, it's apparent that the NBA lockout is going to turn into a long and brutal affair. David Stern really does not seem like a man who's going to give in to the flippant whims of his workers. At this point, the spectacle stinks of smug self-assuredness, as the owners continue to make off-handed comments about how they have been waiting for this moment for years and can't wait to sit down at the table to "negotiate."
Really, the stark truth is that the NBA lockout is going to last until the players give in to ownership's demands. This current crop of athletes has never missed an entire season. That same sentiment cannot be said for the owners.
There are six owners that owned NHL teams during the infamous 2004 lockout and now own NBA teams. During those negotiations, the NHL notoriously missed the entire 04-05 season, effectively sweating out the players enough to emerge from the table with what many call the most one-sided collective bargaining agreement in sports. If it worked once, why wouldn't it work again.
Those same NHL owners are now telling their NBA brethren: ‘we got everything we wanted, in fact, we should have asked for more.' If they need to lose an entire season to complete the kind of deal the NHL got, why not go ahead miss the season? It's only human nature to want what your peers already have.
With this understanding, the waiting game that comes next could not have arrived at a worse time for Suns fans.
Steve Nash turned 37 this year. Let's say his closest historical NBA comparison is John Stockton. The Jazz legend played until he was 41 years old. His last ultra-effective season came in 1996-97, when he was 34, and averaged 14.4 points and 10.5 assists a game.
After that year, Stockton started his gradual decline. His minutes dipped below 30 a game, his assist averages dropped to single digits for the first time since he was 24, and his shooting numbers slowly fell from the lofty heights he was accustomed to.
By no means was he a washed-up player. An old Stockton was still a better point guard than 75% of the league. But an athlete, even an unnaturally durable one, can't peak forever. He just had finally gave in to the inevitable march of time.
Let's assume Steve Nash already peaked out during his 06-07 campaign in which he averaged 18.8 points and 11.6 assists a game, in addition to the brief renaissance he enjoyed in 09-10 by leading the Suns to the Western Conference Finals at age 36. By the Stockton corollary, he's bound to slow down within the next few years.
Even during the recent 10-11 season, in which he put up unbelievable numbers despite a myriad of less-than-desired teammates, Nash appeared to be straining more than usual. His points per game, three-point percentage, and field-goal percentage all hit the lowest totals since he was a twenty-something year old in Dallas. But it is to be expected.
Even if Nash follows in Stockton's footsteps, and plays the game well into his early forties, the time for us to enjoy him is quickly running out. If the greed-driven developments in NBA lockout take away half of the 2011-2012 season -- or worse yet, the whole season -- that small amount of time left between the Phoenix-faithful and their beloved star will dwindle even lower. It would be a sad sight to see, and one that this fan selfishly hopes does not have to happen.