Ever since Steve Nash went down with yet another one of his long extended injuries, a sense of calm has come over the point guard position. From the very moment the Lakers acquired Nash and his laundry list of physical ailments last year, it has become increasingly apparent that he was not going to be the answer to the Lakers point guard woes.
Nash could often be seen sprawled out on the floor of the sidelines while he was still with the Suns. The sight of seeing him trying to convince his back not to tighten up on him, yet alone give out on him, became an all too familiar one in Phoenix his last couple of years. And Lakers fans got a dose of it right out of the gate at the start of last year, when he got hurt the first game of the year, and wasn’t seen for weeks thereafter.
Make no mistake, this is not a tirade about Nash, his failing body, or the fact he never lived up to the expectations the Lakers fans had for him. No, instead, this is a tribute to the man who doesn’t get the publicity, I believe he deserves. That man, is Steve Blake.
Steve Blake, the former Terrapin floor leader who achieved honorable mention All-America, third team All-ACC, honorable mention All-ACC Defensive team and second team ACC All-Tournament honors in 2001-02, while starting all 36 games that year, helping to guide the Terps to the National Championship over the Indiana Hoosiers in the spring of 2002.
Steve Blake has been the epitome of a journeyman guard in the NBA. Breaking in at the age of 24 in 2003-04 with Washington, and playing for multiple teams in between, he has now found a home with the Lakers. The guy is a grinder, he plays as hard as anyone in the league, and he plays with grit and determination. Let’s not kid ourselves into thinking he is, or ever will be thought of as being on the same level of a healthy Steve Nash. However, if we are keeping it real, he has delivered more than Nash has since he came to L.A.
Steve Blake has provided the floor leadership the Lakers so desperately need in this season of transition. Steve Blake is not flashy, nor is he super fast. He doesn’t possess a freakish physique, and he will never be remembered for anything exceptionally spectacular. Steve Blake is going to be remembered for the intangible things he has brought to the Lakers this year.
He has been a calming voice of reason on the floor, holding down the fort until Kobe can get back. He has provided veteran leadership to the young kids the Lakers brought in this year. Blake has been there to remind them, this isn’t playground basketball anymore. This is the NBA, where the team overrides the personal stats. He has helped this team take on an identity it never had at the beginning of the season.
It is highly unlikely you will ever see a bronze bust of Steve Blake in the NBA Hall of Fame. He will probably never be a league MVP. But what he has been to the Lakers so far this year, is something that they needed, at the precise time they needed him. Say hello to Steve Blake everyone. I think your’e going to like the guy.