OAKLAND –- Warriors coach Steve Kerr was crushed, star point guard Stephen Curry was shocked and the NBA, as a fraternity, is reeling.
That was the general reaction to the announcement late Thursday afternoon that Lakers star Steve Nash is out for the season -– and unlikely to ever play again -– as a result of ongoing back problems.
Inasmuch as Nash, 40, is the NBA's oldest active player, this almost certainly ends his stellar career -– a career that Kerr helped shepherd and that Curry used as something of a template for his own entry into the league.
"I'm crushed,'' Kerr said after the Warriors concluded an open practice at Oracle Arena. "I really believed that Steve, based on karma or whatever you want to call it, would go out and have a good year and the basketball gods would shine upon him and get him a few good nights, help his team win a few times, just so he can feel it."
Nash has spent the past several seasons battling severe back issues. The two-time MVP, whose NBA career followed a superb four years at Santa Clara University, played in only 15 games last season and 50 the year before.
"It's pretty shocking," Curry said. "I know he was going to give it all he had this year to play.
"You hate to see that good of a career end like that. But I'm sure he's happy with how things turned out after Santa Clara. That's a pretty impressive resume, definitely a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a guy that we all benefited from watching and playing against."
Nash won two MVP awards (2005 and 2006) as a member of the Suns, a time when Kerr was a consultant for the team. When Kerr became the general manager for a three-year stint beginning in 2007, Nash was the floor leader of one of the league's most exciting offenses.
"I know he wanted to feel the juice a few more times," Kerr said. "I'm crushed.
"And at the same time, it's awfully quick to reflect. But, man, what a career. What an amazing player, an innovator, somebody who will affect generations of players, not only with his play but his approach to conditioning and work and improvement. He's one of the most remarkable human beings I've ever met."
Curry considers himself and his path as similar to Nash. Both were lightly recruited and attended small colleges. Both are slightly built. Neither is considered particularly quick or athletic.
Both Curry (from Davidson University in North Carolina) and Nash were excellent jump shooters yet entered the league having to prove they belonged.
"He's a guy that I looked up to heavily when I was in college and studied a lot going into my NBA career," Curry said. "There are a lot of similarities in how we play the game.
"But he changed a lot about the way the point guard position is played. And, obviously, with two MVPs, he got it done after not really being known coming out of college."
Nash was in the final year of his contract, which calls for him to make $9 million.
The joint announcement between he and the Lakers did not mention retirement, but it's hard to imagine Nash attempting another comeback at age 41.