In honour of Steve Nash being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, we're rolling out Nash Week! Each day we'll be celebrating his finest moments and looking back at what makes him one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game.
Today, we're looking at his greatest point guard rivalries.
1. Gary Payton
First meeting: Nov. 7, 1996
Last meeting: Jan. 5, 2007
A tough start: It didn't take Nash long to learn what makes Payton an all-time great.
In their first career matchup together, Payton went for a cool 25 points, seven assists, five steals and four rebounds against Nash. The Hall of Famer then took down Nash's Suns in the first round of the 1997 playoffs with averages of 25.4 points, 9.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game.
That turned out to be the only time they met in the playoffs, but Nash and Payton saw a lot more of each other in the regular season - with Nash usually escaping with the win.
All-time Nash vs. Payton
2. Allen Iverson
First meeting: Nov. 9, 1996
Last meeting: Feb. 8, 2009
Similar beginnings: Iverson and Nash came from the same draft class, with Iverson being the No. 1 pick in 1996 and Nash being No. 15. They both had some memorable performances against each other throughout their careers, Iverson's most notable being his 44-point, 15-assist double-double in 2007 and Nash's being his 15-point, 21-assist double-double in 2009.
When it was announced that Nash would miss the entirety of the 2014-15 season with a back injury, Iverson posted a message on Twitter saying he was Nash's biggest fan.
Sad 2 hear about Steve but happy he had a great career, a true PG. 1 of the best 2 ever do it. His biggest fan, AI pic.twitter.com/5YL3iUzhBm- Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) October 24, 2014
All-time Nash vs. Iverson
3. Sam Cassell
First meeting: Jan. 13, 1997
Last meeting: March 26, 2008
A series for the ages: The Suns already had a point guard on their roster when they drafted Nash.
That point guard's name? Sam Cassell.
Cassell's time with the Suns didn't last long - he was quickly flipped for another point guard on this list - but he saw a lot of Nash throughout his career. In addition to their 27 regular season matchups, the two were at the center of an epic seven game showdown between the Suns and Clippers in 2006.
Nash averaged 18.3 points and 10.9 assists to Cassell's 20.4 points and 6.0 assists in the first round series, and closed the Clippers out with a 29-point, 11-assist masterpiece in Game 7.
All-time Nash vs. Cassell
4. John Stockton
First meeting: Jan. 16, 1997
Last meeting: April 11, 2003
The blueprint: Back when he was with the Dallas Mavericks, Nash said Stockton was "the best point guard of all-time."
Nash then said that Stockton was the toughest point guard he faced in his career in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit in 2015.
Nash didn't even play against Stockton when he was in his prime. Not that it mattered. A 38-year-old Stockton still put his greatness on display by handing out a game-high 14 assists against Nash's Mavericks on March 27, 2000.
All-time Nash vs. Stockton
5. Chauncey Billups
First meeting: Nov. 28, 1997
Last meeting: Feb. 14, 2013
A nightmare matchup: Nash and Billups were still coming off the bench when they first played against each other, but they soon went on to captain their own ships; Billups in Denver and Detroit, Nash in Dallas and Phoenix when he returned to the franchise as a free agent in 2004.
With his NBA career aligning almost perfectly with Nash's, Billups saw the Canadian transform into one of the greatest point guards of all-time.
"I have so many nightmares playing against this guy," Billups said on ESPN's The Jump. "He's one of the best I've ever played against. One of the guys - and there weren't a lot of them, to be honest with you - that I felt a lot of times I didn't have an advantage on mentally."
All-time Nash vs. Billups
6. Mike Bibby
First meeting: Feb. 14, 1999
Last meeting: Jan. 18, 2012
Bibby is the one who ended Nash's time with the Mavericks. In the first round of the 2004 playoffs, Bibby dropped 36 points and eight assists on Nash in an elimination game that went down to the wire.
While the two didn't meet in the playoffs again, they often got the best out of each other in their regular season matchups. Nash, for example, dished out 20 assists against Bibby's Kings on Dec. 5, 2006. Later that season, Bibby torched Nash's Suns for 37 points on 9-for-12 shooting from 3-point range.
All-time Nash vs. Bibby
First meeting: Feb. 22, 1999
Last meeting: Dec. 25, 2012
Teammates to rivals: The point guard Sam Cassell was traded for in Nash's rookie season? That would be Kidd.
Before they went on to have some crazy individual battles - who can forget the time they combined for 90 points, 27 assists and 20 rebounds in a single game? - Nash says he learned a lot from Kidd when they were teammates in Phoenix.
"It's his competitive nature," Nash explained. "Whether we were going at it in practice or we were in a tight game, you could feel [Kidd's] energy rise to the challenge. I learned as a young player watching him, this guy competes for every inch and wants to win everything he does, and that was really influential on my career."
All-time Nash vs. Kidd
7. Tony Parker
First meeting: Dec. 26, 2001
Last meeting: Nov. 11, 2013
See you in the playoffs: Nash and Parker met almost as many times in the postseason (28 games) as they did in the regular season (37 games).
Unfortunately for Nash, Parker dominated those matchups, too.
Of the six series they played against each other in their careers, Parker's Spurs won five of them. The only time Nash beat Parker in the playoffs was in 2010, when the Suns swept the Spurs in the second round.
The Suns failed to make it out of the conference finals, however, losing to Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
All-time Nash vs. Parker
8. Gilbert Arenas
First meeting: March 9, 2002
Last meeting: April 11, 2012
Putting on a show: To get an idea of how dominant Nash and Arenas were in their primes, the two combined for 96 points and 16 assists when the Wizards traveled to Phoenix to play the Suns on Dec. 22, 2006.
Arenas outscored Nash with 54 points, but Nash put up a strong fight with a 42-point, 12-assist double-double (though it wasn't enough to outlast the Wizards in overtime).
There aren't many players in NBA history with as smooth of a shooting stroke as Nash and Arenas.
All-time Nash vs. Arenas
9. Rajon Rondo
First meeting: Dec. 8, 2006
Last meeting: March 2, 2011
Assist Gods: There's good reason why Rondo and Nash are widely considered to be two of the greatest passers of all-time. Between 2004 and 2016, the two combined to lead the league in assists per game eight times, with Nash doing it five times and Rondo doing it three times.
Despite meeting only 10 times in the regular season, they showcased their passing ability against each other: Nash recorded a 16-point, 14-assist double-double in their first matchup and Rondo recorded a 16-point, 15-assists double-double in their last.
All-time Nash vs. Rondo
10. Chris Paul
First meeting: Dec. 12, 2005
Last meeting: Oct. 29, 2013
Spiderman meme: It's eerie how similar Nash and Paul's stats are in their head-to-head matchups. Not only did they win 11 games each against one another, they both shot an identical percentage from the field (46.0) and 3-point range (37.9), and matched each other in the assist department (9.5).
Paul also currently plays for Mike D'Antoni, Nash's head coach during his best years with the Suns.
While on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Paul said that he still remembers the first time he played against Nash. "I couldn't sleep the night before the game because I just wanted to kill him," Paul said. "[Nash] was how you measure yourself."
All-time Nash vs. Paul
11. Derrick Rose
First meeting: Nov. 7, 2008
Last meeting: April 5, 2011
Same position, different player: Nash and Rose are both point guards, and yet they bring a very different approach to the position. Their matchup on Nov. 24, 2010 was emblematic of that. Whereas Nash finished the game with 14 points and 16 assists, Rose put up an explosive 35 points in the double overtime victory.
Nash and Rose have the unfortunate distinction of being the only MVPs to have never made it to the NBA Finals. Who knows what would've happened had Nash not gotten injured down the stretch of Game 1 of the 2007 Conference Semifinals and Rose stayed healthy during his prime.
All-time Nash vs. Rose
12. Russell Westbrook
First meeting: Nov. 25, 2008
Last meeting: March 5, 2013
Record breakers: Like Rose, Westbrook is known more for his scoring than his passing, but it didn't prevent him from joining Nash in the record books at the midpoint of last season for being an all-around player.
Russell Westbrook:- NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) January 10, 2018
162 regular-season games with at least 20 PTS & 10 AST. Ties Steve Nash for the 9th most games in @NBAHistory (@EliasSports). pic.twitter.com/LxJHZLAmBw
Westbrook isn't far behind Nash on the all-time assists per game leader board, either. He currently trails the Hall of Famer by 0.32 assists per game, a margin he could, in theory, make up before he decides to hang up his own sneakers for good.
All-time Nash vs. Westbrook
13. Stephen Curry
First meeting: Nov. 30, 2009
Last meeting: March 25, 2013
Class is in session: Nash didn't take it easy on Curry in their first career matchup. On Nov. 30, 2009, he carried the Suns to a win over the Golden State Warriors with 18 points, 20 assists and six rebounds. Curry's numbers in that game? 12 points, four assists and two rebounds.
Curry got some revenge before Nash called it quits, though. In their final matchup against each other, Curry carried the Warriors to a victory over Nash's Lakers with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Nash now works with Curry as a consultant for the Warriors.
All-time Nash vs. Curry