While Kobe Bryant’s most renowned partnership is with big men like Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol, the Black Mamba also played with great point guards. These include Gary Payton, Steve Nash, and Derek Fisher. But according to Bryant, there was one point guard who was just above Nash in terms of passing.
High school reunion
In Kobe’s final season, Evan Monsky of CSNPhilly.com was tasked to cover the Black Mamba’s final game in his hometown of Philly. As it turned out, Monsky was Kobe’s starting point guard at Lower Merion High School. The former teammates reconnected in the most epic way possible through a press conference.
Evan Monsky: “Kobe, you played with a lot of great point guards. Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw… Me. Who would you say is the best point guard?”
Kobe: “The best passer was, without a shadow, Evan Monsky. No question. Nash is a close second but Monsky… Even when you had a cast. We made those crazy no-look passes.”
Monsky vs. Lakers guards
There you have it, Evan Monsky set the bar all Kobe teammates had to reach, and none did. On a more serious note, let's check out the best passers Bryant played with.
While Fisher was a pure good point guard, the man wasn’t exactly known for his passing abilities. He was a great guard in his own right, in the sense that he knew the triangle offense by heart. Fisher was also among the loudest voices on those Los Angeles Lakers championship teams.
Payton averaged 5.5 assists in his lone year with the Lakers. However, their 2004 NBA Finals loss was probably in Bryant’s mind and excluded him from his list of favorite teammates.
As for Nash, the man donned the Purple and Gold at the very tail-end of his career. In his two seasons with Kobe, Nash played just 65 games. He managed to squeeze out 6.7 and 5.7 assists, respectively. But just like Payton, his stint with the Lakers was forgettable. He was supposed to be the man to lead the Lakers to another title. But Nash was too old then and didn’t mesh well with Kobe’s playstyle.
Monsky was teammates with Kobe before the Black Mamba was known as the Black Mamba. To some extent, perhaps Kobe was thankful to Monsky for passing him the ball every time he asked for it. Monsky knew way before everyone else that good things would happen if you passed the ball to Kobe. It would make sense Kobe's definition of a great passer is one who passes the ball to him on every possession.