Kobe Bryant seems to be happy that Steve Nash is going to be with the Los Angeles Lakers for the next few years. The move was certainly not expected, but the arrival of the talented point guard has created a buzz around the Lakers that was not there before he arrived. You can understand why Bryant would be happy to have a solid distributor and shooter added to the franchise. However, are there specific things about Nash that are particularly important to #24?
Strong point guard?
It is hard to know how Kobe feels about having a strong point guard. You could argue that throughout his illustrious career, Bryant has never played with a strong point guard. Derek Fisher was a strong person who had a knack for hitting key shots, but he was never the league's best point guard. The triangle offense wasn't designed around traditional point guard play, which means that Kobe has never been part of a system where the point guard was truly the floor general. Will Bryant adapt and let Nash run the show? That is hard to say.
There have been some suggestions that Kobe has respected Nash for a long time. I suspect some of that may be about drive and competitiveness. Bryant respects players that have a passionate approach to the game. Nash is the type of guy that is going to work hard, get his teammates involved, and give his best effort every single night. That is the type of player that Kobe wants to play with throughout the season. Steve is what we would call a "gamer," and Kobe wants guys that are going to have the grit and tenacity to finish strong. This is why Bryant worked well with Derek Fisher and was probably sad to see him go.
Throughout the years, Kobe has had some talented teammates, but few have matched his intensity. Sometimes I wonder if this was part of the conflict between Kobe and Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq wanted it to be "his" team, but he never had the work ethic and killer instinct of a Kobe Bryant. There is a similar challenge with the current team, as Kobe has a center in Andrew Bynum who is talented but sometimes loses his focus. We all want to work with people that we respect, and I suspect that over the years Kobe has been frustrated with teammates that do not share his passion for winning.
It is really hard to gauge how these two talented players are going mesh, but it will certainly be interesting. At the moment, everyone is saying the right things.
The author grew up in Seattle and now lives in Los Angeles, where he enjoys the rivalry between the Lakers and the Clippers, and all the drama that goes with being in the Southland. You can follow him on Twitter @tpheifer.
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