Greg Esposito, the social media specialist for the Phoenix Suns, posed a question to Suns fans on Twitter, as Steve Nash is just seven assists away from the team's all-time record for assists that is held by Kevin Johnson. The question was this:
I have to ask tonight: Are you #TeamKJ or #TeamNash?
Suns fans have been spoiled by having some of the best point guards in the game over the past many years. It started with Kevin Johnson. Then Jason Kidd, Sam Cassell, Stephon Marbury and Steve Nash all brought the ball up the court. Now, most fans will look back on Marbury and Cassell without a lot of love, but they were both considered to be among the best at the position when they played. Despite all the high level of play at the point guard position, when you think Phoenix Suns and point guards, it always comes down to Steve Nash or KJ.
The two players were very different. Nash has a gift for court vision. He keeps his dribble as long and as well as anyone. He takes and creates angles that most basketball players can't even see. He is one of the best pure shooters the NBA has ever seen (and he doesn't even get much credit for that).
KJ was the combination of one of the fastest, quickest and strongest to play the position at his size. He was a scorer, but still put up double digit assists with regularity. He was the 20-10 point guard. He would get penetration and score, get free throws or draw a double team that would leave someone wide open under the basket for a hoop. Twice he helped center Mark West (not a particularly offensively skilled player) average more than ten points a game.
Nash has led the NBA in assists five times in his career, but KJ's best year of assists (12.2 per game) is better than Nash's best (11.6). Yet KJ never led the league in that category. Of course, he played during the same era as the immortal John Stockton.
The biggest thing that sets these two point guards apart from their other Suns counterparts? The winning.
KJ and Nash are the two point guards to lead multiple deep playoff runs with teams that were talented enough and likely should have won championships. For KJ, he ran into Michael Jordan's Bulls and Nash was thwarted by a Robert Horry forearm that led to the suspension of Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, eventually leading to playoff elimination.
I first followed the Suns as a young man about 1989, right at the start of KJ's domination (and hamstring issues). KJ obviously holds a special part of my fan heart. Nash, though, holds another equally important part of my sports heart. I have seen him play at the highest level while I was at an age to understand the game of basketball better.
So if I have to choose one over the other, I can't. The question is inherently unfair. At the same time, it really doesn't matter which one you choose. You can't go wrong.
My answer? Do I pick Nash or KJ? My answer is simply this: