Lakers' Steve Nash officially announces retirement

Veteran point guard Steve Nash, 41, announced his retirement Saturday

It was just another assist from Steve Nash, a pass to Jodie Meeks for a dunk against Houston last April.

It was the 10,335th of his career. And his last.

Nash announced his retirement Saturday, leaving the game he played since being drafted as a rail-thin, little-known point guard out of Santa Clara in 1996.

This would have been his 19th NBA season, though it never got underway. He declared himself done for the season last October because of recurring back problems, par for an injury-plagued three years with the Lakers.

Nash, 41, was acquired by the Lakers from Phoenix for two first-round picks and two second-round picks. He was supposed to be the answer at point guard, their most dynamic player at the position since Magic Johnson.

But he was continually sidelined, starting with a broken leg in his second game with them in 2012. He made $28 million over the last three years, averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 assists in only 65 games.

Nash announced his retirement Saturday with a first-person piece on the Players' Tribune website.

"The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much — visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes," he wrote. "The obsession became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her and got knocked on my [butt] by her."

Nash finished behind only John Stockton and Jason Kidd in career NBA assists. His 90.4% free-throw accuracy is the best all time.

Nash addressed the sting of the last few years, understanding the shortcomings of a championship-or-bust team that began the 2012-13 season with Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Nash.

Beset by injuries, including a torn Achilles' tendon for Bryant, the Lakers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by San Antonio.

"When I signed with the Lakers, I had big dreams of lifting the fans up and lighting this city on fire," he wrote. "I turned down more lucrative offers to come to L.A. because I wanted to be in the 'fire,' and play for high risk and high reward in my last NBA chapter.

"There's been a lot of negativity online, but in my nearly three years in L.A., I've never met anyone who didn't show me anything but love and support for my efforts. There's a lot of class in Lakerland, and the organization and staff have given me unwavering support."

Nash's retirement was not surprising. He could have revealed it last October when he announced his decision to sit the entire season but, in a favor to the Lakers, let them to try to trade his expiring contract ($9.7 million this season) to someone looking to unload a high-salaried player. When the trade deadline passed last month, it was only a matter of time before he officially retired.

Among the handful of people he thanked was his coach in Phoenix and later with the Lakers.

"Mike D'Antoni changed the game of basketball. There's not many people you can say that about," Nash said. "No wonder I had my best years playing for him. He deserves a championship."

Nash also described his affinity for Phoenix, where he was the NBA most valuable player in 2005 and 2006.

"It will always hurt that Phoenix Suns fans didn't get the championship they deserved during our run," he wrote. "The arena was always sold out and rocking. It was the time of my life."

Brown re-signed

The Lakers signed rookie Jabari Brown to a second 10-day contract after he averaged seven points and 20 minutes in four games.

Brown was signed earlier this month from the Lakers' Development League affiliate, the L.A. D-Fenders.

Lakers' lottery balls

Forget playoff pushes. No Lakers title parades this June. The real race is for a bottom-five draft pick that the Lakers don't have to give to the Philadelphia 76ers. The regular season ends April 15, the draft lottery is May 19 and the NBA draft is June 25. Below are standings of the five worst teams after Saturday's games and odds to land the No. 1 overall pick, which will be Duke center Jahlil Okafor until further notice:

1. New York (14-55, 25%)

2. Minnesota (15-53, 15.6%)

3. Philadelphia (17-52, 19.9%)

4. Lakers (17-50, 10.4%)

5. Orlando (22-49, 10.3%)

LAKERS VS. PHILADELPHIA

When: 6:30 PDT Sunday.

Where: Staples Center.

On the air: TV: TWC SportsNet, TWC Deportes; Radio: 710, 1330.

Records: Lakers 17-50; 76ers 17-52.

Record vs. 76ers (2013-14): 1-1.

Update: A big game for one reason — lottery possibilities. The Lakers have the NBA's fourth-worst record and currently a 10.4% chance at the No. 1 pick in the May 19 lottery. The 76ers, though, are right next to them with the league's third-worst record and a 15.6% chance at the top pick. The Lakers haven't played the 76ers this season but face them again in a little over a week in Philadelphia.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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