The claps and cheers became louder after Steve Nash hit a golfball at an undisclosed driving range, a scene that was posted this week on his Instagram account.
With the 40-year-old Nash ruled out for the season two weeks ago because of recurring back problems, the general public’s reaction hardly provided as positive of a reception.
Among the comments suitable for print included, “I’ve hurt my back before and there’s no way I would have been able to swing like that.”
Although Nash will not play this season, he has not officially retired and will still make the $9.8 million remaining on his contract. The Lakers have currently allowed Nash to stay away from the team since his season-ending injury. But the Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, coach Byron Scott and teammates have all expressed hope Nash could serve as a mentor for the Lakers’ younger players. Scott has not talked with Nash since the injury, both for the want to give him space and because of the team’s heavy schedule that entail playing its first four games in five days.
“Hopefully this week, I’ll get a chance to reach out to him, talk to him and see how he’s doing,” Scott said on Tuesday. “Hopefully he can come out here and help us out a little bit. That’s totally up to Steve. You have to give him space. But I’ll definitely try to reach him out this week.”
Nash has only played a combined 65 games through three years with the Lakers for reasons included a fractured left leg and subsequent nerve irritation in his back and hamstrings. Nash posted 11 points and five assists in the Lakers’ preseason opener before sitting out the second game to rest. Nash then played in only one quarter of the Lakers’ third exhibition after reporting issues with his back.
Nash has not officially retired, allowing the Lakers to trade him as an expiring contract. The Lakers have also applied to the NBA for a disabled-players exception, which will allow them to sign a free agent or trade for a player worth half of Nash’s salary ($4.85 million). But the NBA has not yet responded to the request.