As part of the Inside the NBA tribute to Kobe Bryant last night at Staples Center, Steve Nash appeared and remembered the man who was one of his fiercest enemies in the Western Conference and eventually, his teammate.
Looking back on their relationship, Nash acknowledged all the things that separated them but said competition is what brought them together.
“He was 18 straight out of high school, I was a graduate of Santa Clara, we could not have been more different,” Nash said. “He’s the brashest, most electrifying 18-year-old I’ve ever seen in my life, and I was nervous, insecure, trying to make a name for myself.”
Nash’s Suns and Kobe’s Lakers famously fought three times in the playoffs, with the Seven Seconds Or Less Suns catching Los Angeles just after Shaquille O’Neal had left the team. It wasn’t until 2010 that Kobe finally dethroned Phoenix on his way to his fifth title.
After the 2006 series, which featured the infamous Raja Bell clothesline and Kobe refusing to shoot the ball in Game 7, Nash said Kobe came up to him at a photo shoot for Nike and asked how Nash was able to trust his teammates so much.
It was the ultimate sign of respect in Nash’s eyes. Still, he wasn’t convinced the gesture wasn’t intentional, used to get in Nash’s head.
“When I walked away from the conversation I have to admit, I was like, ‘Was he Jedi mind-tricking me?’” Nash said.
It didn’t matter.
“I love this about Kobe Bryant,” Nash said.
So did everyone, even those fans who couldn’t bring themselves to actually show him respect as he killed their teams year after year. It’s what made Kobe Kobe. And it’s what will remain in so many Suns fans’ heads as time goes on.
You can watch the full clip below.