The never-ending argument of Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan has been hotly debated over the past decade. Fans worldwide voice their opinions while Kobe Bryant does everything in his own power to permanently engrave his NBA legacy into stone. It was once nearly far-fetched to argue Kobe's case, but now, it appears the scales may have tilted to Bryant's side.
Three days ago, many said that Bryant's championship window had closed. I can still hear the echoes: His team is faded, his contract's inflated. His knees rival Andrew Bynum's and his teammates fold when pressure is applied.
Not the case anymore. I can just imagine Kobe's little chuckle as he thinks to himself, "you can always doubt me, I'll always prove you wrong."
Steve Nash has this kind of effect on everyone it seems. His sphere of influence positively affects every person he encounters, especially on the basketball court.
While he runs the show, everybody else shines. The basketball starts with him, and it ends in the rim.
His arrival cannot be better news for Kobe Bryant.
While the Black Mamba finished second in scoring this past season with 27.9 points per game, his shooting percentage was the lowest it's been since his rookie campaign. He was forced to be the team's primary playmaker, and often found himself with the ball and three seconds left on the shot clock.
It's hard being good, even though Kobe is, when you don't have efficient help.
Steve Nash has changed all of that, and 'good' will not suffice in describing Kobe next season.
While Kobe had his shooting woes last season, it is safe to assume we will see a much more productive and efficient Bryant. You can look at Steve Nash's track record for proof:
During the 2003-2004 season, Amare Stoudemire averaged 20.6 points per game, while shooting 47 percent from the field. When Nash joined the Phoenix Suns the following year, Stoudemire's numbers skyrocketed to 26 points per game on 56 percent shooting.
Of course, it doesn't end there with Nash being the consistent player he is.
Marcin Gortat, an NBA unknown before arriving in Phoenix, was tremendously affected by Nash's selflessness. While in Orlando during the 2010-2011 season, Gortat averaged four points per game while shooting 54 percent from the field. Once Steve Nash joined the fray, Gortat's numbers went through the roof the next two seasons, averaging 13 and 15.4 points per game respectively, while posting better field goal numbers than his 2010 season.
Now, throw in Kobe Bryant to this equation.
Unfortunately though, Bryant's legacy is not entirely dependent on Steve Nash. While Steve will make Kobe great, Nash alone does not guarantee Bryant's highest aspiration: another NBA championship.
The Lakers as constructed, still have many questions, and one has to wonder if Nash alone will be enough to topple the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat. With issues ranging from offensive consistency in the paint and on the perimeter, to defense all around, Los Angeles needs to set their sights on one more player: Dwight Howard.
Yes, it is true that a 3-point specialist would do wonders for this team, but that can easily be obtained.
Dwight Howard is the missing link to Kobe's legendary greatness.
Nothing is guaranteed, especially in today's NBA. But, Dwight Howard would sure do a damn good job in positioning the Lakers as easy favorites for the NBA title.
The athleticism and pick-and-roll ability Howard possesses would complement Nash perfectly. Not only would the Lakers be a lock-down defensive team in the paint, they would also have a variety of offensive options. Steve Nash could generate points with his eyes closed.
No longer would we have to regularly witness wildly hoisted shots by Kobe with three seconds left on the shotclock. As a matter of fact, I am certain there would be an incredible increase in the amount of times Kobe's made shots result from wide-open attempts. Think about it, what are teams going to do? Double Howard, and Kobe or Nash is open. Double Kobe, and Howard or Nash will get it done. Cheat the pick-and-roll, and you have an uncontested three or wide open Steve Nash layup. The possibilities are endless.
What will a sixth title do for Kobe's legacy? Michael Jordan had six, but with one coach. How about seven?
What will the Jordan supporters say when Bryant leads the league in scoring while shooting over 45 percent from the field?
Would another MVP award validate Kobe Bryant's status?
When it is all said and done, I wonder how many additional rings Kobe's fingers will hold. I am not talking about please-forgive-me rings, by the way.
Am I living in a fairyland, or does Steve Nash and Dwight Howard make this a reality?
I feel more safe making this claim over betting a dollar on a blackjack hand.
Let the debating wars begin.