Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 7/5/12
The offseason's wholesale recalibration of the NBA has gone a long way toward answering one of the league's most interesting questions: It turns out that, yes, Kobe Bryant can age gracefully. In reportedly helping recruit Steve Nash to join him in Los Angeles next season, Bryant helped the Lakers make a move that does more than thrust them back into the NBA's upper echelon. It also signifies a kind of wisdom and humility any all-time great must find as his body ages and his window starts to close. For Bryant, with his 34th birthday two months away, that time is now. And in adding Nash, an all-time great point guard who will force Bryant to give up touches and cede control of the offense, No. 24 has shown that deep down he doesn't just know the clock is running down. He's showing he can accept that fact and act on it by bringing in less of a Dwight Howard-like weapon and more of an actual equal. None of this is to say Kobe Bryant is washed up or that age has deprived him of his greatness. It is to say that day is coming, as it comes for everyone. Dwyane Wade reminded us in these past Finals that time is the great equalizer that way. Bryant could have ignored that fact, could have convinced himself he has the ability and youth to will Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol and an assortment of spare parts through the sheer force of his greatness. A younger Kobe probably could, and certainly it's what a player with his gifts would strive to do in younger years. Instead, a wiser version of that player, one who seems in tune with his limits and his remaining powers, went a different route. He has decided to chase his sixth ring by opting to support another adult into the room to help lead the kids (Bynum) and the weak-willed, would-be leaders (Gasol). This is Kobe Bryant, a true control freak, ceding much of himself and his control to someone with the heft, experience and reputation to command it. That takes more than confidence. It takes the rarest of gifts in great talent: self-awareness. There are, of course, other factors at play here beyond Bryant helping recruit a great point guard who will share his place in the locker room and cut into his touches on the floor. The Lakers must do what they can to squeeze as many championship-caliber seasons as possible from Kobe's remaining years, and that requires help. The trade exception used to bring Nash in on the surprise sign-and-trade deal this week means the door has not closed on Dwight Howard and, in fact, could further motivate the big man to make the Lakers his appointed destination-of-choice of the moment. So there is still time to trade Bynum for Howard, for Gasol to go if that is necessary and for the pieces around this new Bryant-Nash tandem to be reassembled before next season. But whatever form this team takes including one that includes Howard it will be two men and two men only who are the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Lakers. After getting rolled out of the postseason by the much younger Oklahoma City Thunder, Bryant stared down his own expiration date with a typical flare of fiery I'm-not-washed-up-yet quotes: "I'm not fading into the shadows, if that is what you're asking," he interrupted when asked about the inevitable subject of the changing of guard. "I'm not going anywhere. We're not going anywhere. This is not one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappear forever. I'm not going for that (expletive)." Followed by: "I'm not the most patient of people, and the organization is not particularly patient either," he said. "Come hell or high water, we will be there again." Fair enough. But it's one thing to say you're not washed up who wouldn't say it? and another to go out and recruit a player who will force you to relinquish so much control over your team because you know it's your best shot. Kobe Bryant recruited an equal into his midst in Nash rather than a petulant man-child like Howard because it turns out his greatness will, in older age, be accompanied by a canny willingness to exchange some leadership for a chance at a title. You can follow Bill Reiter on Twitter or email him at foxsportsreiter@gmail.com
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Aldon Smith posts video under a psuedonym of a blunt on Periscope

WATCH: Cam Newton get blocked by a girl playing volleyball

Russia avoids complete ban from Rio Olympics by the IOC

Report: Padres trying to move Andrew Cashner, Derek Norris

Baseball's top prospect called up to majors by Astros

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Braves 'aggressively' shopping Francoeur, Aybar

Report: Hue Jackson designing plays for Terrelle Pryor

Report: Darnell Dockett expected to announce retirement

Report: Yankees have not discussed releasing A-Rod

Report: D-Backs making Shelby Miller available via trade

Rex Ryan: IK Enempkali could fill void left by Mario Williams

Cristiano Ronaldo spars with Conor McGregor in gym

Adam Silver is the new standard-bearer for league commisioners

Iowa football player held at gunpoint by police while playing Pokemon Go

Eight most significant injuries going into NFL training camp

Man. U players banned from playing 'Pokemon Go?'

Ken Griffey Jr. put on backwards hat during HOF speech

Mike Piazza honors 9/11 victims during Hall of Fame speech

Jeremy Lin hints he is racially profiled by arena employees

Why did Rio mayor offer to put kangaroo in Olympic village?

Joe Maddon wastes no time cracking Chris Sale joke

Report: Lamar Odom walked out on family intervention

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker