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PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 25: Steve Nash #13 of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center on April 25, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Spurs defeated the Suns 110-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The worst sports crimes can be the silent ones. They are the crimes of omission that deprived us of potentially amazing moments that never happened.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me give you Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. More specifically, let me point out how, over their lengthy NBA careers, the Warriors have never been able to suit up either one in a Golden State uniform.

And now, clearly, it's never going to happen. Nash, 38, is leaving the Phoenix Suns for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kidd, 39, is headed to the New York Knicks.

Here's why that's at least a basketball misdemeanor, if not a felony: Over the past 20 years, there's no question Kidd and Nash were the Bay Area's two most popular college basketball players. Kidd helped orchestrate a major turnaround of the Cal program and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. Nash gave Santa Clara a shocking boost into three NCAA tournaments. (The Broncos haven't made an appearance since.)

In fact, drop the "college" qualifier. Over the past 20 years, Kidd and Nash might well have been the Bay Area's two most popular basketball players at any level. When they went on to NBA All-Star careers elsewhere, it was considered more of a cause for local celebration than for bitterness and angst.

Except in this space. Sentimentality is not the only factor here. It is borderline inexplicable how -- even though Nash has changed teams three times and Kidd has changed teams six times (!!!) -- the Warriors have seemingly never made a serious effort to land either over the past two decades.

You can't blame the current administration. Bob Myers, the Warriors general manager, has been in that job for only two months, after serving one season as an operations vice president. And he did, for the record, make a recent phone call.

"We did inquire about Jason Kidd," Myers confirmed Thursday.

The inquiry, unfortunately, went nowhere. Kidd's choice to sign with New York shows he was probably more interested in finding a team that had a chance to win a championship. Plus, when Kidd was asked on a local radio show about Golden State as a possible free-agent destination, he said it might actually be more of a hassle to play for his hometown team (he grew up in Oakland).

Kidd's rationale was that playing for the Warriors could spark a deluge of ticket requests from old friends and family, who'd possibly also eat up too much of his off-court time. (That doesn't explain why Kidd decided to play college ball at Cal, where the same issues existed, but fine, we'll go with it.)

As for Nash ... well, Myers figured the Warriors never had a prayer to obtain him this summer, given their salary cap situation. And once again, Nash was evidently seeking a team with a title chance. Which, as we all know, is the eternal issue with the Warriors.

"We have to become one of those teams," Myers said. "That's what we want, to be one of those teams where, when a free agent is looking for a place where he can win a ring, we are a place where they want to choose to play."

The Warriors, of course, did have one magnificent chance to obtain Nash and totally blew it -- in 1996, the year he was drafted. Golden State instead used the 11th pick in the first round to select the immortal Todd Fuller, an amiable galoot out of North Carolina State. Fuller's NBA career lasted five unremarkable seasons. Nash was picked four slots later by the Suns.

After that, each time Nash was traded or became a free agent, the lunkheaded Warriors were stumbling through their own inertia and chose not to get involved in the hunt.

Same thing with Kidd, even as he moved from Dallas to Phoenix to New Jersey to Dallas to New Jersey to Dallas -- and now to New York.

Am I wrong? Other franchises wangle ways to get the players they really want. Once, just once, why couldn't the Warriors have worked out the salary math, then gone in hard and strong to proclaim their savage ardor for either Nash or Kidd? If you're a good enough salesman and demonstrate that your team is on the right track, the "come back to your roots" pitch can work. Correct? This week in hockey, two top free agents (Zach Parise and Ryan Suter) stunned the big-market teams by signing with the Minnesota Wild because they had Minneapolis-area connections.

Myers, addressing that issue, speaks only in general terms. But as a former agent, he has worked both sides of the street in these situations.

"I can go back to my days as a player representative and tell you what happens when a player is considering where he wants to play," Myers said. "They're usually looking for a number of things. In order, it's usually money, a chance to win and the opportunity to play. . . . The franchise's location only comes into play to break a tie, if everything else is equal."

And with the Warriors, everything else is never equal. Money is not the problem. Golden State has thrown millions at players who haven't produced. And playing time for good players is plenty available. So we're back to that tricky "winning" thing again.

Myers, rightly, points out Nash and Kidd are point guards and says for the immediate future, the Warriors are in OK shape at that position with Stephen Curry. But certainly Kidd or Nash -- in this season or any other season since 1994 or 1996 -- could have injected a boost of ultra-professionalism and winning attitude into the locker room.

Instead, Nash will do all that stuff in 2012-13 for the Lakers. As will Kidd for the Knicks. The Warriors will keep plugging away with younger pros who have no Bay Area connections. And when their careers are concluded, Nash and Kidd will have never taken the stage for the NBA team in their former backyards.

Maybe that is no tragedy. But it is a damn shame.

Contact Mark Purdy at mpurdy@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5092.