(SportsNetwork.com) - Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Steve Nash has decided to retire due to chronic injuries that have hampered the Los Angeles Lakers point guard in recent years.
Nash, who has not played at all this season due to recurring nerve damage in his back, made the announcement in an article he wrote for The Players Tribune website.
The 41-year-old has appeared in just 65 games since joining the Lakers in a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns in July of 2012. Nerve problems from a leg injury limited Nash to just 15 games last season.
Nash leaves the game ranked third on the NBA's career list with 10,335 assists and is the league's all-time leader in free throw percentage (90.4). The eight-time All-Star also has amassed 17,387 points and 1,685 3-pointers over 18 seasons with Phoenix, the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles.
"The greatest gift has been to be completely immersed in my passion and striving for something I loved so much -- visualizing a ladder, climbing up to my heroes," Nash wrote. "The obsession became my best friend. I talked to her, cherished her, fought with her and got knocked on my ass by her.
"And that is what I'm most thankful for in my career. In my entire life, in some ways. Obviously, I value my kids and my family more than the game, but in some ways having this friend -- this ever-present pursuit -- has made me who I am, taught me and tested me, and given me a mission that feels irreplaceable. I am so thankful. I've learned so many invaluable lessons about myself and about life."
Nash began his long career with the Suns in 1996 and played two seasons in Phoenix before being traded to Dallas, where he first established himself as an elite point guard and helped the Mavericks reach the 2003 Western Conference finals.
After six successful seasons with the Mavericks, Nash rejoined the Suns as a free agent in 2004 and put together the best run of his career. He led Phoenix to back-to-back appearances in the West finals during the first two seasons of his return and was named the league's MVP in both of those campaigns.
Between the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, Nash averaged 24.7 points and 15.7 assists as the quarterback of then-head coach Mike D'Antoni's high-powered offense.
Nash's play began to decline in his final season with the Suns in 2011-12, when he played in just 62 games but still landed his final All-Star selection. He was traded to Los Angeles the following summer in exchange for four draft choices -- including two first-rounders -- with the hopes he'd be the missing pieces in an expected championship contender.
Nash broke his leg in his second game as a Laker, however, and appeared in only 50 regular-season games as Los Angeles was swept by San Antonio in the opening round of the playoffs.