Steve Nash's Willingness to Defer to Kobe Bryant Makes Him LA Lakers' Real MVP

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder posts Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have won six of their past seven games, and it's all because of Kobe Bryant taking on the role of distributor as Steve Nash gladly gives up his role for the greater good of the team.

It seems like a lot has been made out of Kobe passing more, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

However, while he has been passing more, his new role has relegated Nash to a much smaller statistical output over the course of the past few games, even though his importance can't be downgraded.

In their most recent win against the Detroit Pistons, they played together in a manner that they should have from the start of the season. Kobe Bryant shot poorly, making just eight of his 20 shots, but he didn't go overboard.

The rest of the team came together and combined to shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor as Kobe tried to do more offensively near the end of the game, passing more often than not in the first few quarters.

Kobe finished with 18 points and five assists, while Nash finished with 11 points and 10 assists. The Lakers won 98-97 without Dwight Howard.

Of course, in the previous five games Kobe was averaging 11.2 assists per game, while Nash averaged just 4.2 dimes.

What's most intriguing is that Nash hasn't just sunk into the corner while waiting for an open three-pointer to come his way. He's still very much in charge of the offense.

The only difference is that the game he's running now makes him look like more of the point man on a power play in hockey as opposed to a point guard in basketball.

He's consistently bringing the ball up the court and initiating the offense. Whether that means calling for the pick-and-roll with Pau Gasol, dropping out to get an open jumper for Earl Clark or dumping the ball into the post and setting a screen for Kobe, he's always doing something on offense.

The only difference now is that he's not the guy making the pass that leads to a bucket, he's the guy initiating the play that leads to a bucket.

Should the NBA decide to start recording assists like they do in hockey, giving one to the first and second pass that leads to a goal, then Nash would probably be leading the league.

However, he's plodding along, doing the dirty work for a team that desperately needs a dirty work-doer, and he's doing it all while sacrificing his own numbers.

When you think about it, Nash's change in role isn't that surprising. He's likely on the last contract of his career, and he's got nothing left to prove as a player. The only thing left to do is win a title.

After the Lakers came out flat out of the gate, and then stayed flat, and then somehow got flatter, something had to change.

Asking Kobe to give up shots without concentrating on something else would have been entirely impossible for him to do.

Nash has totally given up his main role with the team all in order to keep Kobe happy, while making the Lakers a better team in the process. He deserves a ton of the credit for the Lakers' turnaround, even if his impact isn't showing up on the stat sheet.