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At age 38, the Suns point guard leads the NBA with 11.2 assists per game. He will be a free agent following this season.

DAN PATRICK:Have you ever had a stretch when you were a lockdown defender?

STEVE NASH: The weird thing is, my first few years in the league, that was my role as much as anything. I wasn't getting minutes unless I got stops. Once they start asking you to run 195 pick-and-rolls a game, that doesn't [happen] anymore.

DP:Do you pace yourself at 38?

SN: All NBA players have to pace themselves to an extent. Maybe when you're 21, 22, you don't have to think about it. I try to be careful not to overdo it at certain times. You want to be ready down the stretch.

DP:What do you do better at this age then you did earlier?

SN: Reading situations is more second nature. Different moments of the game slow down a little bit.

DP:Like how Wayne Gretzky described seeing a few plays ahead.

SN: Gretz is my hero, so I wouldn't want to put myself in that category. I don't romanticize what I do. But you do see ahead. When you're a young player, you're in a hurry. As you get more experience, you think time is on your side even in moments when most people might feel rushed.

DP:Do you agree with Charles Barkley that Kentucky might beat the Charlotte Bobcats?

SN: I got the Bobcats. I think Kentucky probably has more talent. But the guys are young. Their bodies are young. Those guys are kids. There are some men on the Bobcats. If [the] Kentucky [guys] all played until they were seniors, it would probably be interesting.

DP:Do you think the Suns came close to moving you at the trade deadline?

SN: I don't think they got close. Being a free agent this summer will be more interesting than the trade deadline.

DP:How important is winning when you make your decision about a team?

SN: I definitely want to win. I'm not going to come back to the Suns if they're not ambitious about upgrading the roster. I think they are. But I want to consider all my options.

DP:What if LeBron said, Let's make a run at a title?

SN: I'd listen. He's phenomenal, and I love what they're doing there. A lot of people don't like them because they put all that talent together, but they're professional, they play hard and they play together.

DP:You had success at Santa Clara, but some NBA scouts doubted you. Would it be different if you were coming out of college now?

SN: It was always a situation where people didn't believe [in me]. Even coming out of high school. I had played against Long Beach State when I was with the [Canadian] junior national team and had a great game. The coaches said, We have to get you down for a visit. I never heard from them again. It was always something I had to overcome. But I never gave up on myself.

DP:They didn't want a Canadian with a bad haircut?

SN: They saved themselves from further bad haircuts.

"People are ridiculous. There've been bad teams where people put up numbers, but not numbers like these—and we're winning this year. Last year you definitely could have said that, but this year we're knocking on the door of the playoffs."

—KEVIN LOVE, Minnesota forward, on critics who say his 26.5 points and 13.8 rebounds per game are diminished by the quality of his team


NBA-bound Duke guard Austin Rivers commented on the possibility of playing for his father, Doc, with the Celtics. "That would be fine," Austin told me. "When you're away from the court, it's father-son. On the court it's strictly business." ... Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he felt looser this season because he realizes his coaching mortality: "The window is closing on a lot of us. I made up my mind, I'm going to enjoy every second." ... Marshall Faulk disagrees with how NFL teams rate his former position in the draft. "You can have three running backs do what one guy did," Faulk said. "I don't know if I could have ever played that way. The position has been devalued." ... The Giants' Buster Posey, who broke his left leg and tore three ligaments in his ankle in a home plate collision last season, has learned that there's no safe spot for catchers: "Anything is fair game, whether you are on the plate or you are not. What I've taken away from this experience is, regardless of where I am, I need to make sure my body is in the best possible position to take a shot."