Between Allen Iverson And Steve Nash, The Answer is Nash

And It Is Not Even Close

nashIversonWith the latest injury and announcement that 40-year-old future hall of famer Steve Nash will miss the entire upcoming NBA season, many in the media have begun to understandably eulogize Nash’s career.  Indeed, we have likely see the last of him as far as playing in the NBA. One comparison I hear making the rounds is who was better between he and another great guard destined for the hall of fame, Allen Iverson.

Most I have listened to on ESPN, led by an admittedly biased Stephen A. Smith, (Smith credits A.I. for helping him in his career in sports print/TV journalism) either slightly or heavily point to Iverson as being the better or the two, and or the one they pick for their team. I believe Stephen A. stated that A.I. was on another level compared to Nash.

Hogwash. Iverson was great but players like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook must get sick hearing talk about Iverson sometimes, because when they shoot a lot, they’re selfish ball stoppers. When A.I. shoots a lot, despite how many times he misses, he is demonstrating heart. Because A.I. was very tough, fearless, and lets face it, short by NBA standards, he sometimes got a pass on being a volume shooter, and dare I say selfish player, that others would not.

With Nash and Iverson you can make the debatable argument that if either is the best player on your team you will not win a championship. Assuming that is the case, I am far more confident that Nash could have an easier time adjusting his game, and being the second best player on a team than Iverson.

We know Nash was an all-time great passer.  Currently he is number three on the all time assist list.  Yes, he did more to make his teammates better, but he was also a great two, three, and foul shooter, as demonstrated by being part of the exclusive 50-40-90 club  (pointed out by Smith’s sparring partner on ESPN’s First Take, Skip Bayless, who does give a slight edge to Nash.)

Here is a question to ask yourself in the comparison. Hoopsmanifesto
lists the top ten NBA players of all-time as being:

10 – Kobe Bryant

9 – Shaquille O’Neal

8 – LeBron James

7 – Tim Duncan

6 – Wilt Chamberlain

5 – Larry Bird

4 – Magic Johnson

3 – Kareem Abdul- Jabbar

2 – Bill Russell

1 – Michael Jordan

If we could ask them, who on this list do you think would prefer to play with A.I. and who would want to play with Nash? With the possible exception of Magic, my bet is that everyone would rather play with Nash.  Let’s add some more names, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Kevin Durant, Dwayne Wade, Derrick Rose, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Kevin Love, Paul Pierce, Chris Bosh, Julius Erving, Reggie Miller, etc, etc… who would most to all of these guys rather play with between A.I. and Nash?  That is the player I want on my team.

And yes, I have to talk about practice… Who is the better practice player? The more coachable player? More likely to make teammates better? To lead by example and be a better mentor? The answer to all of these is Nash. Better raw skills? I will give that slight edge to A.I. but that does not make him the better nor more desirable player.

A.I. did play with tremendous heart, but because of height, I think he gets talked about and elevated over others I would take before him in a team game…To name some:  Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, and Gary Payton come to mind as others I would take over A.I..  (Isaiah Thomas is already acknowledged by most as being better than Iverson)

2 thoughts on “Between Allen Iverson And Steve Nash, The Answer is Nash

  1. Iverson averaged the most assists relative to points out of the players that had a similar scoring output, only Micheal Jordan averaged more points and assists. Also what, you’d rather have George Lynch, Tyronn Hill and Eric Snow shoot the ball? His job was to score and he did just that and he also passed the ball yet you call him selfish, it’s like calling LeBron selfish for scoring in the ’16 finals. Iverson consistently outplayed Nash and the suns, Duncan and the Spurs. He also outplayed Kobe Bryant individually for 8 out of his 14 seasons and outscored Shaq in his time with the Lakers. Iverson was also a steals leader and one of few players to lead in steals and points in the same season. He also is one of only 5 players to average 40 minutes per game or more. He also averaged 26.7 ppg with 6.2 assists, only 1 player has a similar stat line and that’s none other than his airness. Sure Iverson was inconsistent on certain nights and would go cold turkey on others, but you got to remember the context, the spacing was much more different back then, the defense would concentrate more on the inside than the perimeter where Iverson mostly operated, in the paint. He was a 6′ (5’10” according to LBJ) scoring over guys that would have a good foot on him. His TS% isn’t exactly great but it’s above average.

  2. “A.I. did play with tremendous heart, but because of height, I think he gets talked about and elevated over others I would take before him in a team game…To name some: Ray Allen, Jason Kidd, John Stockton, and Gary Payton come to mind as others I would take over A.I.. (Isaiah Thomas is already acknowledged by most as being better than Iverson)”, Their roles were completely different, Stockton and Kidd focused on assists, Payton on defense and Ray Allen in the perimeter, Iverson in Philly was quite literally LeBron in ’16 Cavs without Kyrie.

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