Lakers fans likely jumped for joy when the two-time NBA MVP lifted his purple and gold No. 10 jersey at the Lakers training complex in El Segundo, Calif. But while the Laker faithful know that Nash ultimately turned down more money from the Toronto Raptors to come to L.A., they probably don't know how close Nash was to heading home to Canada.
Nash, who has become a Canadian icon during his 16-year NBA career, was actually very tempted to sign with the Raptors mainly due to some prompting from his childhood hero Wayne Gretzky.
During the Raptors pitch to Nash, which included a reported three-year, $36 million deal, the team utilized Canada's most prized athlete as the narrator in their pitch video. Gretzky's presence was an attempt to provoke the free-agent point guard into joining the Raptors, and it nearly worked, according to ESPN.
"It was like watching a Hall of Fame video," Nash's agent Billy Duffy said of the Raptors presentation. "They wanted us to close the deal right then."
Nash could be seen fighting back tears one source said, according to the report. But the 38-year-old wasn't ready to make a quick decision, as GM Jerry Colangelo and the Raptors had hoped. Ultimately, the Raptors lost out on the Nash sweepstakes and the eight-time All-Star ended up being shipped to LA instead.
The close proximity to his home in Phoenix, or his great appreciation and love of West Coast living may have won in this scenario. But Gretzky's presence clearly had an impact on Nash, whether it enticed him to sign or not.