On Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Lakers kick off a seven-game road trip in Phoenix as Steve Nash makes his first appearance against the Suns since leaving for Los Angeles.
Nash was out injured when the Lakers hosted the Suns in mid-November, so Wednesday night will mark the first time the 38 year-old will face his former team after spending eight seasons in Phoenix.
When asked about his return to Phoenix in a Lakers’ jersey, Nash said he was unsure about the reception he would receive and expected a little bit of everything from the crowd.
Lakers’ Head Coach Mike D’Antoni, who was head coach of the Suns from 2003 to 2008, expected Nash’s reception on Wednesday night would be “great.”
“He gave everything he had,” D’Antoni said of Nash’s time in Phoenix. “Definitely, it will be appreciated.”
Along with D’Antoni and Nash, Earl Clark also has ties to the Suns. Clark was drafted by the Suns in 2009 with the 14th overall pick, and he still has some hard feelings about the manner in which he was let go.
“I spent a lot of nights [in Phoenix] practicing and wanting to play in that arena,” Clark said. “It’s going to be great for me to show the GM and the front office that I could play the game and they missed out on me.”
Clark said he was never clearly given a reason for why he was not playing while in Phoenix, and he seemed motivated to show the Suns that they made a mistake by not picking up his rookie option (video of Clark talking about playing against Suns).
Nash, D’Antoni, and Clark all have emotional ties to the Suns, but on Wednesday night, the main story will be Nash’s return and the reception he receives. For the Lakers’ team, though, the only goal is to continue their three game-winning streak and to snap a seven-game road losing streak.
The Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns at 7:30 p.m. Pacific.