Being a rookie in the NBA is not an easy thing, especially when you have to guard older and more experienced players on a nightly basis. Most of the rookies need some time to adjust to being a pro, while only a few of them already look like they’ve been in the NBA for some time. In an interview on the Knuckleheads podcast, Steve Nash talked about the first player that cooked him in the game.
Remember, Steve Nash was a rookie back in 1996, and he talks about a game against Sacramento Kings, where he had to go in the game and guard Mitch Richmond. Richmond was one of the most underrated guards back in the day and a player capable of dropping 20-25 points with extreme ease on pretty much anyone in the NBA.
Nash said that when he was a rookie, he was a better defensive player than in later stages of his career, but that night he felt like a little kid trying to guard a grown man, which was probably the case. He felt utterly embarrassed because of Richmond’s ability to score a basket at will against Nash.
“I remember one time we played Sacramento, and Mitch Richmond was heating up. I remember Danny saying, “Rook, go in there and go get up in him.” I’m not obviously not known for my defense, but when I was a young player, I guarded a little more because I wasn’t like burning with offensive stuff. So he threw me out there, and he kind of got hot, and he cooked me. I remember feeling so helpless. He was just brushing me off. He was hitting shots with no rim, just straight up bottoms, bottoms, bottoms. I was like, oh my god, this is embarrassing. It was embarrassing because the ball wasn’t even touching the rim.”