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Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 9:30 am  |  71 responses

Unselfish Kobe Bryant Reminds Steve Nash of Magic Johnson


The Los Angeles Lakers are on a two-game winning streak, thanks in large part to Kobe Bryant’s passing and playmaking. Steve Nash told reporters after last night’s upset win over the visiting OKC Thunder that Kobe’s 28 assists over the past two games brought back memories of Magic Johnson. Per the LA Times: “In the latest proof that wins equal happiness, Dwight Howard and Bryant embraced near midcourt in the final seconds. A victory never seemed so important for a team that ‘improved’ to 19-25. The Thunder came in with the NBA’s best record (34-10). ‘It feels good to finally beat a team that’s worth a sh*t.’ Bryant said later. Where to begin? With Bryant, as usual. He had 14 assists in a second consecutive game, continuing his approach that began two days earlier in a breezy victory over Utah. He also had 21 points, nine rebounds and only three turnovers, none in the second half. ‘Frankly, Kobe reminds me a little bit of Magic Johnson the way he’s playing right now,’ Nash said. ‘He’s controlling the game.’ Bryant had this many assists over two games only one other time: December 2002, when he posted back-to-back 14s against Utah and Golden State. The context here couldn’t be greater. Bryant is stealing the role from the player who won two league most-valuable-player awards under Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system in Phoenix. And the gamble couldn’t be bigger. The Lakers, desperate for momentum, are still four games out of a playoff spot despite the victory. Numerous Lakers players have complained about not getting enough touches, minutes, whatever, this season. Nash won’t whine about not getting enough assists. ‘I welcome this,’ he said. ‘We’re so much better this way regardless of how many opportunities I get to make plays. At this stage of my career, I’m all-in as far as trying to figure this out, how we can all be better together. It is a big difference for me and a big change, and it’s something that I have to continue to adjust to. Very rarely did I get the ball to catch and shoot in my career … but I’m getting a good rhythm and I think I’m feeling more comfortable doing it.’”

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  • danpowers

    what a suprise: team play leads to wins

  • zogs19994

    STEVE…..YOU SNAPPED!

  • afra33

    Nash is a good catch and shoot shooter.. he should do that more.

  • Max

    And so finally, Kobe has learned how to play ball the most effective way.

  • huami

    I always believed that Steve Nash should shoot more. His shots seems to always fall in when he takes them.

  • huami

    I agree. He can score. Just chooses not to.

  • huami

    Imagine if he did during Shaq era.

  • PJAY!

    True! He’s an efficient shooter but he always pass first

  • PJAY!

    Right! He’s a true PG! Pass first!

  • Duby

    After one game, everyone overreacts that the Lakers have it figured out. Wait till they lose to someone like the Raptors or Bobcats, then ppl will be saying “oh, they suck.”

  • pposse

    the shaq era might have still been around if he did

  • http://twitter.com/thursti_tyht Thurstian Tsui

    I think we can make the argument that Nash is one of the best shooters the league has ever seen in terms of consistency and his high tsp

  • bike

    The right side of Kobe’s brain says pass, the left side says chuck. This results in a constant inner battle with Kobe which is why he lives a life of quiet desperation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jay.brodes Jay Brodes

    steve nash as the new steve kerr? worked for mj. kb has always liked handling the ball as in phil’s triangle he would score but played more the pippen position that mj per se. kb is 205..not 225 like mj was in the last 3 championships. that is a huge difference in the post!

  • http://twitter.com/apowellAdvocate Allen Powell II

    Kobe has done this many times before. His role on those early Lakers teams was to initiate the offense and get people shots. He rejected that role at a certain point. If he’s truly willing to change his mindset, that would be the most impressive thing he’s done in his career. But, it’s only two games, so let’s hold off on the Hosannas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    lol SLAM’s very own Freud

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    He made some tough shots yesterday. He’s a great shooter.

  • spit hot fiyah

    nash’s logic: give him enough compliments and he will keep on passing

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Well, I mean they did win 3 championships in 4 tries. If he was that selfish that wouldn’t have happened.

    In all 3 years they won rings, Kobe had less than or equal to the amount of shots Shaq took per game (in the playoffs). Shaq took 22, 21, and 20 shots during the 3 peat, with Kobe taking 18, 22, 22.

    However, keep in mind that the Lakers threw it in the post quite often for Shaq, and often times he got fouled, which is why he *averaged* 12+ free throws per game during the first 2 years, and 10+ during the 2002 campaign By contrast, the highest FTA average that Kobe had was 9, during the 2001 postseason.

    Case in point – Kobe wasn’t that big of a hog during the 3 peat.

    2004 however? He was the reason they lost in the Finals.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    He’s stated numerous times that he would never have continued playing with Shaq, regardless of how much they won.

    It wasn’t because he hated playing with him (which I’m sure he did), it was because Shaq said in an interview that Kobe could never win without him…and that was enough for him to know he didn’t want to play with him anymore. The guy is hyper competitive, there is no way he was going to be OK with Shaq and his peers thinking he couldn’t win without Shaq.

  • pposse

    all that might be true, but shaq and kobe were a force that was like nothing ever seen in the NBA (for the time)..when you never have seen a game 7 in the finals, you know were on a dominant team. I still say them two could have easily won 8 rings.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Definitely agree. If he went from a pure scorer to a facilitator for the remainder of the year, it’d definitely be a + for his legacy as well. He has pretty underrated passing skills.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    8?? They had a tough enough time winning the 3rd one. Kobe was at the prime of his career in 2002-2003, as was Shaq (close to it). They couldn’t get past the second round against the Spurs that year.

    They had the talent but after you win as muvh as they did, winning is more of a mental component when you’re facing hungrier teams who have less talent but more of a desire to win.

  • pposse

    8! keep in mind, the exact year the duo split up D Wade and Shaq went to the ECF, where Shaq sort of “deferred” so to speak to D Wade, and they should have won that year against the Pistons but Wade twisted his ribs and was out for game 6 and 7.

    The next year D Wade and Shaq won…Wades my guy but Kobe at that time was arguably the better ball player.

    And then Kobe won 2 out of 3 rings in the comming years. The mental component would have been all about being the best winners (Bill Russel – esque)..they obviously didn’t do that, but with savvy management moves to fill in pieces around them i believe it could have happened.

  • altamera74

    Kobe finally figuring out how to play TEAM ball? Shocking that it took him this long to figure out something so many of us had figured out so long ago.

  • Peter Maguire

    wow – Kobe must be mocking Steve Nash! Killing me how talented this guy is and if he needs to get 15 assists a night so be it, whatever it takes to win, I just hope these guys can hit the shots. He can and we all know that, worst of all He knows it and his impatience is what is at stake now, Step up Lakers! Will he have to get 20 rebounds a few games now to show Pau and Dwight that they should be averaging that!!!

  • Peter Maguire

    He did defer to Shaq .. are you kidding. His skills are way beyond anything Shaq could ever wish for, it is a shame Shaq couldn’t come to grips with the fact he would never outwork Kobe, could have been a great tandem if Shaq ever put in a fraction of the work Kobe did.

  • Peter Maguire

    Karl Malone’s injury was the reason why… just saying. At that time the team needed to make Kobe the go to absolute game finisher and the ego’s screwed him – no one was near as good as Kobe on that team.

  • CandJJ

    I’ll bet it bothered Nash to say what they say he said. But, he gets paid a lot to get along with Kobe. I wish our Mavs had Nash back; but, then I wish we had Chandler and Barea back too. smile Gram J

  • cr_chris

    Shaq was closer to the top of his weight peak than the peak of his prime back in 2002-2003. And his lack of motivation to stay in shape is what made the 3rd title difficult than anything else. If he would just have worked harder to stay in shape, they likely would have won at least one more, if not two before he got traded. Hell, maybe he wouldn’t have been traded. Granted, he had toe issues, but he seemed a lot more motivated when he got to Miami and trimmed down quite a bit. Too bad he didn’t have that same commitment in Los Angeles that last two seasons he was there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Yes, his injury played a big part in the loss, but Shaq was averaging 26 points on 63% (!!!) shooting. They were single covering him with the Wallaces. Detroit was hoping for Kobe to shoot the Lakers out of the game with Prince on him, which is what he did. Kobe had 22 ppg that series, with 38% FG and 17% shooting from the 3 pt land. The weak bench played a big role in the losses as well, but Kobe didn’t do his part that series,

    He was also mentally drained that year, lost a ton of weight, and was not as good as he would have been had the trial not happened. Shaq was a monster in that series – Kobe was not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    By all accounts, Nash and Kobe have a pretty good relationship off the court.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    He would have been traded either way. Kobe had no patience to play with him and spend his prime being labeled as a “Pippen”. Management chose the right player.

  • robb

    Kobe could be a much more complete player than he allows himself to be. I hope this tendency remains

  • robb

    Jekyll Bryant and Mr. Mamba

  • Vin

    Kobe is the next Lebron James 2.0 LOL!

  • LakeShow

    Judging by his team success over the many many years we have to sample, he either has always played team ball or never needed to.

  • LakeShow

    Who said the Lakers have it all figured out?
    I’ll wait.

  • LakeShow

    Co-Sign.

  • Conor

    HaHaHa

  • Conor

    Still strong enough to back down 1s, 2s, 3s, and some 4s. His weight is to alleviate pressure on his knees.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainman1991 Saleem Rainman

    yup. An argument that number wise, he wudnt lose.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainman1991 Saleem Rainman

    It honestly depends on how the teams play them(the Nash and Kobe Backcourt.) People need to realize that the Kobe playing the Magic Johnson Role is working because defences are over comitting to stopping specific options. What i mean by that is they knew when Kobe got the Ball, he wud shoot. So they would triple or double team him and hope for the best.Or when Nash had the ball, it was the opposite. when he ran the pick an roll, defences knew a pass was coming. He didnt take shots when they were available because he was too concerned with getting his big men going. sometimes those forced passes would result in turnovers. EVENTUALLY teams have to strategize to stop the Kobe passing, and Nash shooting so many good looks (cuz they know, this dude in the Best shooter of all time we’re talking about here, in regards to efficiency.) And when that happens,things are likely going to go back to how they’ve been (but not in a bad way) Nash goes back to running the offence, but likely is gonna take shots when they are there, and Kobe goes back to being aggressive in looking for his shot and playing off the ball, but not forcing, and making plays when thats possible. When that happens, that backcourt is gonna really get clicking and run the way everyone envisioned that it would. They’ve got it figured out i think, but its taken a while.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rainman1991 Saleem Rainman

    Of note: I think Kobe is realizing that taking a LeBron-esque approach to the game is actually the most effective way of playing, lol.

  • charles

    please do not disrespect magic nash and kobe together can not remind you of magic

  • charles

    please do not disrespect magic nash and kobe together can not remind you of magic

  • altamera74

    Not true. By that logic, Shaq was justified in being fat, lazy, and slacking on defense. No, instead, we can see that despite Kobe not always playing team ball, the teams he was on occasionally succeeded. However, Kobe’s lack of team play frequently hurt his teams, and diminished what his success otherwise would have been throughout the years. 2003, 2004, this year, etc., Kobe’s lack of team ball has hurt his team and cost them wins and success.

  • http://twitter.com/Chrmngblly William Stuart

    No one knew about Earl Clark’s birth defect and the Laker’s program to include the handicapped on this year’s team until this article came out. When I read that he grew an extra foot I nearly went crazy trying to find a photo. Does anybody have that?

  • LakeShow

    He is justified. He is still a top 3 all time center lol.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.stuart.3572 Bill Stuart

    No one knew about Earl Clark’s birth defect and the Laker’s program to include the handicapped on this year’s team until this article came out. When I read that he grew an extra foot I nearly went crazy trying to find a photo. Does anybody have that?

  • LakeShow

    I love when people act like KB has EVER had a strength or posting issue any time after his 4th year in the L. Just hasn’t happened.

  • altamera74

    Justified or not, both Shaq and the Lakers would have been better, and likely won more rings had he been less lazy, been better at staying in shape, and tried harder on defense. Same with Kobe’s frequent lack of team play.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nguyen.h.phung Nguyen Hoang Phung

    james’s assits are bullshit !!!

  • huami

    Yes he certainly is.

  • huami

    Couldn’t agree more. Well said. However, what I meant was, if only he had the mindset to constantly set his teammates up like he is now, I believe shaq wouldn’t have left LA.

  • Allen

    Shaquille ?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OVPBYCSRK6PSUKNCOB66Z2L4IU scot

    Kobe passes more, nash shoots more, Howard plays more defense, Gasol plays more aggressive. D Antonio let Bickerstaff coach.
    bench start shooting better and maintain the lead

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OVPBYCSRK6PSUKNCOB66Z2L4IU scot

    nash is a good shooter so he can be the shooting guard, well actually both nash and kobe are shooting and point guards.

  • Peter Maguire

    nice to see someone who actually saw the truth, and as far as Kobe was involved he knew Shaq’s methods and surely was riding his work ethic and lack of overall conditioning. This the untold story is how Kobe demands 110% and if you want his respect you better put it in!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gtowery1 Glenn Towery

    Possibly brilliant move D’Antoni a 2 point guard system. Pick your point guard poison, especially when they are on the floor together. Might work…..Very interesting….Can’t wait to see how this plays out. May change basketball forever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Smith/100004127531754 Ben Smith

    I don’t know. “Taking the shots when they’re there” isn’t quite the same as being an aggressive offensive player who collapses the defense almost at will, which is what Kobe Bryant is doing. Nash is not a naturally aggressive scorer and he definitely has not constituted an aggressive offensive player since 2010.

    I’d say that the Lakers will just have to stick with what they’re doing. If Nash isn’t open, someone else probably will be open.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Smith/100004127531754 Ben Smith

    … with zero NBA Finals appearances. Sometimes, you can be too “pass first.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Smith/100004127531754 Ben Smith

    The reason why the Lakers lost in the 2004 Finals was the Pistons being the better team …

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Smith/100004127531754 Ben Smith

    “Arguably” being the operative word; Wade was the more efficient scorer, more explosive off the dribble, and at least as effective of a playmaker.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Smith/100004127531754 Ben Smith

    The NBA game is about efficiency; all of Kobe’s skills have never allowed him to shoot .470 from the field.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Smith/100004127531754 Ben Smith

    But when Kobe posts up, he often ends up drifting out to about eighteen feet and no longer being in the post. Whether the issue is more physical or psychological, I’m not sure.

  • Peter Maguire

    Look at the numbers Kobe and Michael are almost exactly the same and if anything Kobe is better at the 3-point shot. The game comes down to who can win in in the clutch and obviously the whole world agrees Kobe is far better closer than Shaq ever was. Efficiency is key and of course they needed both to win but seriously who played with more injuries more heart and more hanging over his head than Kobe and still delivered. The 2004 debacle was a mess because Kobe was injured and so was Malone , Shaq got his numbers because Payton fed him and his role surely hurt his role as well as how horrible it was to go against Kobe in the Finals. Those teams were poor and the numbers show it, lots of talent like todays team but never really gelled like they should have.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509819249 Gaurav P.

    Yes, but Kobe was forcing the issue against Prince a lot.

  • LakeShow

    Just not true. He doesn’t get it on the low post. He gets it at the elbow. He either back’s his man down if their is space, or doesn’t if there isn’t.

  • Denzo

    He’s got more than Joe Johnson.

  • altamera74

    Debatable. Kareem, Russell, Chamberlain

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