With each pass pushing Steve Nash past him atop the NBA’s all-time assist ranking, Golden State Warriors Mark Jackson hardly uttered the words that turned into a memorable catchphrase during his ESPN broadcasting gig.
Jackson resisted yelling “hand down, man down” on the television screen each time Nash made a play. Instead, the Warriors coach actively rooted for Nash to replace him at the No. 3 spot in the Lakers’ loss Tuesday to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.
“I respect his greatness and it was good to see,” Jackson said Wednesday in an interview with this newspaper. “There was no side of me pulling against him. At any point, my day will come and go and whatever I accomplished will fade away.”
Still, Jackson conceded he wished Nash would have broken his record when the Lakers (25-53) host the Golden State Warriors (48-29) Friday at Staples Center.
“I would’ve blown a timeout and congratulated him,” said Jackson, who ranks fourth overall with 10,334 assists. “In an ideal world, Steve would have done this the same time we were on the floor. I would be sitting, watching and appreciating it all.”
Jackson likely will not have that luxury just to see Nash on the court.
Nash, who had five assists in 13 minutes against Houston, did not play the second half after suffering what he called a “bite” in his hamstring after trying to “open up and sprint” early in the game. After playing in only 15 games this season because of a nerve irritation in his back, Nash sounded skeptical he would play in the Laker’s four remaining games.
“Hopefully it’s something that I can work through quickly here,” Nash said. “If I work through quick enough, I’d love to play again. But it’s probably doubtful.”
Considering Nash’s tenuous health, Jackson conceded the possibility he would retain his No. 3 spot. Only John Stockton (15,806 assists), Jason Kidd (12,091) and Nash (10,335) rank ahead of Jackson.
“To have one of the all-time greats surpass me is the ultimate compliment,” Jackson said. “I always worry that there may not be a good player who passes me on the list. But when you see Steve Nash and Jason Kidd do it with the incredible careers that they’ve had, I’m honored. “I really pinch myself when I look at the names around me. It’s a testament to how God blessed me. I have no business being on this list. I’m blessed and extremely humbled to be with those guys.”