2012-'13 LA Lakers Season: Kobe Bryant vs. Kobe Bryant
Kobe, of course, was completely on board with the move to land the two-time MVP point guard because it would immediately place the Lakers into the contender conversation. However, standing in the Lakers way is Kobe Bryant himself. How, you ask?
Kobe has been a Los Angeles Laker his entire NBA career. Throughout his time with the team, he has yet to play with an established All-star point guard. Derek Fisher, Smush Parker, Steve Blake -- ain't exactly the cream of the crop. Because he lacked a true, ball-dominant point guard, Kobe was responsible for much of the ball-handling duties on the perimeter, and has since continued to inherit those responsibilities.
When the Lakers acquired Ramon Sessions at the trade-deadline last season, they hoped that he would prove to be capable of taking the ball out of Kobe's hands full time to give him the opportunity to work off the ball, gain post position, etc. However, come playoff time, Sessions disappeared in crucial situations, leaving the heavy lifting, once again, to an aging Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers want to win. They always have and will continue to do anything and everything in their power to do so. Kobe Bryant wants to win. But his competitive streak causes him to hold onto the ball too long at points and make crucial mistakes because he believes only he can create opportunity. In order for this Lakers squad to be successful, Steve Nash will have to demand the ball and become the primary ball handler, putting Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in positions to score.
Oftentimes, Kobe is his own worst enemy. He wants so badly to carry his team on his shoulders and felt the need to do so without a capable supporting cast. However, this season his instincts will need a tune-up. Nash has made a living of making the players around him better, and Kobe needs to allow his new back-court mate the room to do so.
Playing off the ball will create space and allow for Kobe to go to work in the open-floor. The addition of Nash can lead to the re-installment of Showtime; something Lakers fans haven't seen since the early/mid 90's. However, Kobe needs to get out of his own way. His style of play requires a tweak. Nash is unlike any other at his position and Kobe will have to let him do his thing in order for the Lakers to succeed.