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Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Can Steve Nash save the Lakers?

By Julie Foudy

Please, please don't ask me to watch soap operas, reality TV or "The Bachelor." I'd rather watch paint dry. I'd rather run a marathon while being pecked by a chicken. I'd rather give up desserts for life (OK, that's a complete lie; no way will I be giving up desserts).

And I never used to subscribe to the theory that when something is so bad it can actually be good fun to watch. But this year, sadly, the Los Angeles Lakers are starting to swing me on the so-bad-it's-good pendulum. They are the gift that keeps on giving. It is so unwatchable, I cannot stop watching. It is so absurd, I can't turn it off.

Posed Twitter pics ... subliminal and some not-so-subliminal comments to the media about needing to work harder ... fathers now commenting on the drama ... Ah, it is the Dr. Phil Dream Team.

It hit me recently as I was watching the ultra-cool, rarely ruffled, super-teammate Steve Nash lose it on Dwight Howard in the fourth quarter versus the Miami Heat: Just how many times a day must Steve Nash wonder, "What in the heck am I doing here?" You know he must think it, especially as he is about to take on his former team, the Phoenix Suns, on Tuesday night.

He must think it ... even with those Phoenix Suns sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference barrel.

Even playing alongside one of the greatest players to play the game.

Even playing for a coach he loves and respects.

Even playing in the great city of Los Angeles.

Because for someone who just turned 39 years old, that same pendulum is going tick-tock. He left Phoenix in pursuit of championships, not drama. He left Phoenix in search of a ring, not a three-ring circus.

But his time in Los Angeles didn't start out dreamy for Nash. Two games into the season, he suffered a broken fibula that lingered almost two months; he missed 24 games and the Lakers fell to 12-14; 12-12 without their two-time NBA MVP point guard. When Nash got healthy, the sun suddenly shined, the birds were singing and the world was right again. Enter No. 10, Steve "The Savior" Nash, into coach Mike D'Antoni's anointed role. (How many times did we hear D'Antoni say something to the effect of, "When Steve gets back from injury, all will be well in Lakerland again.")

Yet, let's look at the reality of today. Nash has come in and helped, but he has not solved the problem: the Lakers are 12-14 since his return.

Not surprising, really. Nash isn't and shouldn't be the answer. The answer is putting together a team that actually likes each other. Forget Xs and Os. Forget about the fact these guys can't play a fast D'Antoni system. Focus on the fact that you first need a team that likes each other. No love necessary. Just like.

Kobe Bryant is not going to be the player to solve that issue. He has never been the "team-builder" guy. He admits that. Everyone knows that. But Nash has, and still can be in L.A. Now he needs to with this new team and environment. He can no longer play the more reserved role. Now it is time to play the role of playmaker, linker, joker, motivator and veteran unifier. Because that is what the Lakers need. They need to not just look like they are having fun, but to actually feel good about playing alongside each other. They need to laugh again. That doesn't happen on accident. It takes work.

Team chemistry is a verb. Nash can be the catalyst. But it could be the most herculean task in all the universe and the entire history of mankind (I so love being part of the media).

Take your cape off, Dwight. Mr. Nash is going to need it.