Kobe Bryant welcomes Steve Nash
LAS VEGAS -- Like the rest of the NBA, Kobe Bryant didn't see the Los Angeles Lakers' trade for Steve Nash coming. But when the idea was presented to him earlier this week as he held his camp in Santa Barbara, Calif., it didn't take long for him to warm to the idea.
Yes, Nash has been one of his fiercest rivals in the NBA.
And yes, Nash did beat him out for the MVP award in 2005-06 when Bryant posted the best individual statistics of his career.
But there's also a matter of winning that sixth championship in a league that's getting tougher and more athletic by the year.
"He gives us a much, much better chance," Bryant said after the first day of USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas. "He's a terrific shooter. And shooting is something that was lacking for us. His ability to playmaker for others out of the pick and roll is one of the best we've ever seen. He has a high basketball IQ, in terms of being a coach out on the floor.
"We've obviously had our moments and had our battles, but at the core of it was two guys who came in the league the same year (1996). Myself, him, Ray Allen, we're pretty much the last ones left. And there's kind of a bond that comes with that. It's a little bigger than some of the rivalries that we've had."
Nash initiated the conversation "through back channels," Bryant said, and really just wanted to know if Bryant would be OK teaming up with a player he'd had so many battles with over the years.