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 a recent interview on the podcast Knuckleheads, 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.”