Few viewed Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as major threats in the Steve Nash running, but here we are.
And perhaps we should have seen it coming.
Sure, they've had
their differences over the years. The Lakers and Nash's Phoenix Suns also met a couple of contentious times in the playoffs.
But if we track the visual evidence -- a small sample of evidence, but evidence nonetheless -- we can see two chummy members of the draft Class of 1996, perhaps plotting to one day appear in NBA jerseys alongside each other in more than just
this photo. Kobe & Nash circa 2003, when the latter played for the Mavericks. The start of negotiations? Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images Kobe & Nash getting close at the 2006 All-Star game -- and it was far from their first game together. David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images Far from their last, either; this is 2008 in which they're exchanging a teammate-like greeting. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images Come on -- you don't think the two of these guys are plotting something here in 2008? Harry How/Getty Images ... or in 2009? Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
And here they are in Oct. 2010, just months after the Suns' loss in the Western Conference Finals. That was the last time Phoenix made the playoffs. Lakers? They might get there a time or two more. Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images