Broken Nose, So What? Nash Plays On
No big deal. The Phoenix point guard, who suffered a minimally displaced nasal fracture with displaced cartilage Sunday night, went to practice as usual Monday morning. Then he went to the doctor to have his nose put back in place.
Nash, who won't miss any game time due to the injury, was hurt in a late fourth-quarter collision with Lakers guard Derek Fisher in a 118-109 win, which cut Phoenix's deficit to 2-1 in the Western Conference finals. What happened then added to the Nash legend and was not for the squeamish.
"My wife was in a car accident [once] and broke her nose,'' said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. "It almost made her physically sick to see him grab his nose and just try to rearrange it himself. You know the pain that is involved with that. He's a gamer. You want to use an old cliché. He's a real gamer.''
Descriptions were running rampant about Nash's toughness when he showed for practice Monday. With Nash being Canadian, he was compared often to a hockey player. Suns forward Amar'e Stoudemire called him "Steve backslash Ginobili'' after San Antonio's Manu Ginobili, another tough guard who played after suffering a broken nose earlier in the playoffs.
"I was trying to move it while it was still fresh," Nash said nonchalantly of trying to put his nose back into place. "I know that once it sets it's harder."
It's the second injury to Nash's face in a two-week span. In the final game of a 4-0 sweep over the Spurs in a West semifinal May 9, Nash needed six stitches to close a cut over his right eye after he had been inadvertently elbowed by San Antonio star Tim Duncan in the third quarter.
Nash played the fourth quarter barely being able to see. And now the legend grows.
"I'm lucky,'' Nash said. "I've had a couple bumps or bruises that haven't affected my play. Those don't bother you.''
Nash, who had a minor reduction performed by Suns ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. Ryan Rehl to put his nose back into place, said he has no plans for Tuesday's Game 4 to wear a mask or even have it taped up the way Ginobili did. His teammates weren't surprised to hear that.
"That's the way hockey guys do it,'' said guard Jason Richardson. "You get your teeth knocked out, your nose broken, get five or six stitches on your eyeball and he still plays. He's tough and he's going to play through stuff like that. But I know in the back of his mind, he's like, 'Why do I keep getting hit in the face.' ... It's just bad luck.''
It's at least the third time since 2007 Nash has suffered a facial injury of note in the playoffs. He had his nose sliced opened and badly bloodied in a collision with Spurs guard Tony Parker in a 2007 West semifinal.
"He's a warrior,'' Stoudemire said. "He's going to play hard through injuries. ... He's definitely like a hockey player. ... He might as well throw some ice skates on and go play hockey the way he takes his bruises and bangs and comes back and plays. He's as tough as anybody out there.''
Interestingly, Nash has said some fellow Canadians have told him jokingly they believe basketball is a soft sport. But how many of them have tried to shove their displaced nose back in shape?
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson