EL SEGUNDO, CA — Tuesday was quite a day at Lakers headquarters.
Kobe Bryant confirmed an internet report that he is indeed retiring.
And he happily pointed out how good the Lakers seem to be and how much he truly enjoys playing with Steve Nash.
First, as far as starting his five-year countdown to enshrinement in basketball’s Hall of Fame, it’s definitely going to happen—just not in the near future.
Maybe two years, maybe three, maybe five years from now. Or maybe even at the end of this season if the Lakers win their coveted 17th franchise world championship—though it’s unlikely Bryant would miss out on a chance to break the Boston Celtics’ NBA record for most titles.
However, you can calm down Lakers fans. It’s very possibly the last thing on Kobe’s mind right now as he gets prepared for a crack at his sixth championship.
“I don’t know why (the media) is paying any more attention to it now as opposed to two years ago when I said it,” Bryant said quizzically. “It’s the same old, same old. I don’t know what caused it to get their attention right now.
“What I commented on is really no revelation.” Kobe said about an internet interview he did last week. “It’s my 17th season coming up and I’ve been fortunate to play that long. We’ll see where it goes. (There’s) a lot of basketball to be played.”
And Bryant is very happy that the majority of that playing time will be alongside Nash.
The two-time NBA MVP has adjusted to his new Lakers teammates as if he has been playing with them for years. Which, in essence, he has, according to Kobe.
“In a sense we have been together,” he said, “because we’ve played against each other for so long. Everything just meshes.”
Bryant said that Nash plays the game at a different level than most and makes everybody on the floor with him a better player.
“Playing with Steve is just a walk in the park,” he said. “The guy is just the best passer I’ve ever played with—that’s for sure. He makes the game very, very easy.
“He makes (my game) a lot easier. I can move without the ball and just trust that he’ll make the right decision. It’s as simple as that. I really don’t have to work (as) hard to get opportunities. I find openings within the defense, and he makes the defense pay.”
Center Dwight Howard verifies everything Bryant said.
“(Nash and Bryant) know how to play basketball,” Howard said after practice.”Being the guards, they understand how the offense has to run, and Steve has done an excellent job in finding the open guy. We’re just going to play off that.
“In the game the other night, he was throwing the ball between guy’s legs, behind their back and making guys fall. He’s making things very easy.
“He’s Steve Nash.”
Nash said after Sunday’s exhibition game that he feels comfortable with Bryant on his side.
“It felt pretty good,” the understated Nash said. “It’s been (a short time). In little moments we realize we’re on the same page. We’ve got a long way to go.
“He’s always going to be Kobe. But he’s willing to relinquish a little bit for the betterment of the group.
“It’s going to be good.”
Especially if Bryant decides that he likes playing with Nash so much that he sticks around for the entirety of the point guard’s contract with the Lakers—three years.