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Steve Nash’s decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers over the Toronto Raptors shouldn’t come as a surprise

Jim Morris
Eh Game

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Toronto Raptors fans should understand Steve Nash's decision

During his 16 years in the NBA, the last eight with the Phoenix Suns, Steve Nash's ultimate goal was winning an NBA Championship.

He proved his worth by twice being named the NBA's most valuable player. Nash also made other players around him better with his passing, enthusiasm and by putting the team first. Now, in the twilight of his career, why should it surprise anyone that the best basketball player Canada ever produced made a decision that gave him another chance at that elusive goal of a championship ring.

Never afraid to overestimate their own self importance, fans in Toronto believed it was Nash's national duty to return to Canada and play for a Raptors team that will struggle to make the playoffs again next year. When Nash elected instead to go to the Los Angeles Lakers, a club that will be in the championship mix, there were howls of criticism and questions about his patriotism.

[Related: Los Angeles Lakers land Steve Nash for draft picks

"Thanks for nothing Steve,'' was one comment posted on Rogers Sportsnet. "Nice message to send other free agents when our Canadian superstar does not even want to be in Toronto.''

Please. Give your head a shake.

Nash could have chased the money and gone for one last big cash grab. Instead the 38-year-old point guard turned down the reported $36-million, three-year offer from the Raptors and took a three-year, $27-million contract from the Lakers. To make the sign-and-trade deal work, the Suns received four draft picks.

"Steve Nash will make the Lakers a championship contender,'' former Laker great Magic Johnson said in a tweet. "His passing ability will make all the Lakers better including their big 3.''

When Nash agreed to become general manager of Canada's senior men's basketball team many people believed it was his first step to returning to Canada. That might make sense if there still was an NBA team in Vancouver, but what exactly did Nash owe Toronto? He grew up in Victoria and played his college basketball in Santa Clara. A huge soccer fan, he is part owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer.

In L.A., Nash will play with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. His quiet, take-charge nature will probably be a good thing for a team used to lots of noise.

[More: Nash's arrival could make Dwight Howard also want to join the Lakers]

Nash, who is involved in a divorce, always wanted to stay close to this three young children. The Hollywood Reporter has already said moving to L.A. will help Nash's film production company Meathawk, which he runs with his cousin Ezra Holland.

And let's be honest here. Given the choice between Toronto and Los Angeles, who would take snow over sunshine, Lake Ontario over the Pacific Ocean, Rob Ford over, well does it really matter who the mayor of L.A. is?

Nash has worn the Maple Leaf as a member of Team Canada in international competition and as captain of the Canadian team at the 2000 Olympics. He has hosted charity basketball and soccer games in both Vancouver and Toronto.

Given a choice, Nash took the option that gave him the best chance at winning a title while staying close to his family and maybe pursing his filmmaking career.

In a recorded message sent on Twitter, Nash said goodbye to the Suns' fans.

"Thanks for the last eight years, the unwavering support, the fun, the lifetime full of memories,'' he said. "It was just incredible. I didn't want it to come to an end but everything does.

"As I say goodbye I just want to say I hope you guys win the championship you deserve so greatly, soon. Thanks again. I love you guys.''

Maybe Nash needed to explain himself to the fans in Phoenix, but his reasons for going to L.A. should make sense to anyone in Canada.

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