Steve Nash is a 6-3 point guard who needs the basketball in his hands, too.
When the Lakers acquired Nash from the Phoenix Suns for four draft picks July 10, it seemed it might become a union made in basketball hell.
How could Bryant and Nash blend their games, meshing their skills, if both craved the ball at all times?
It won't work, the skeptics argued. Bryant and Nash simply can't coexist in the same backcourt, they insisted.
It's a nice pairing for an All-Star Game, but for 82 contests plus the playoffs?
Bryant would never stand aside while another guard controls the ball. What were the Lakers doing, trying to torpedo their future?
Well, the naysayers had their say.
Bryant and Nash got their turn soon enough, and judging by the results of one half of one exhibition game, there's nothing to worry about. They can play together. Rules need not be changed, so each can have a basketball on the court at the same time.
All it took to set the doubters straight was one trademark drive by Nash and one alert pass to Bryant on the perimeter midway through the first quarter of the Lakers' exhibition opener Sunday against the Golden State Warriors in Fresno.
The Warriors converged on Nash as he dribbled into the paint.
Bryant waved to him from his spot just in front of the Lakers' bench.
Nash spotted him at the 3-point line.
Bryant accepted Nash's pass and sank the shot as the crowd roared.
It looked as if Bryant and Nash had done it for years instead of only days.
"He likes to pass. I like to shoot," Bryant said after he had 10 points and three assists in only 18 minutes, 30 seconds and Nash had five points and three assists in 14:35 in the first half of the Lakers' 110-83 loss to the Warriors.
Later, Bryant smiled as he stood in front of his locker.
There was a twinkle in his eye as he spoke.
"It's easy," Bryant said when questioned about teaming with Nash.
"He just makes the game easy. It's a joy for me. I've had to score and facilitate my entire career. I don't have to do that now, and I'm pretty happy about it."
It was Bryant, after all, who helped persuade Nash to agree to the trade.
"It's going to be weird for a while, but it's going to be good," Nash predicted after playing his first exhibition in purple and gold after spending so many seasons jousting with Bryant and the Lakers while with the Suns. "I like it."
Of Bryant, Nash added: "We haven't spent a lot of time talking about it. But in little moments we realize we're on the same page. We see certain things maybe other people didn't see, little things we can connect on. I think that's only going to grow."
No doubt, it will take time for them to jell, as Bryant once did with Derek Fisher running the point for the Lakers. A new offense, the Lakers' version of the free-flowing Princeton offense, could ease the transition for Bryant and Nash.
"It's all predicated on the movement of the ball and of bodies," Lakers coach Mike Brown said of his new scheme. "It's all based on reads. The thing I like about it, it's a stress-free offense. That's how we try to sell it to the guys."
Consider Bryant and Nash sold.
In the opening days of training camp, Bryant likened himself to a wide receiver.
Nash described himself as a quarterback.
In the past, Bryant acted as the quarterback and receiver, a grueling role.
In the new offense, Nash won't be asked to keep the ball on a string.
Nash can pass the ball to center Dwight Howard in the low post, for example. Or he can hit power forward Pau Gasol at the high post and Gasol can deliver the ball to Howard down low or find small forward Metta World Peace on the wing.
Or the ball can go back to Nash or Bryant and they can work their magic.
In the end, more offensive options mean more chances to keep everybody involved. The Lakers can play low-post basketball, as they did last season to limited success. Nash also can run a pick and roll with Howard or Gasol.
"I think everybody still needs to be aggressive and who they are, but to a certain degree their games are going to change some," Brown said. "They'll figure out ways to sacrifice a little when it comes to scoring. In Phoenix, Steve had the ball in his hands.
"He doesn't need to do that here all the time."
Brown joked that if the offense is successful this season, if Bryant and Nash jell, then he'll call it the Brown offense. If it's a bust, if Bryant and Nash can't get it together, then it'll be the Jordan offense, named for assistant coach Eddie Jordan.
Later, in a more serious tone, Brown praised Nash for his playmaking skills, for making rookie center Robert Sacre appear as if "he was in the league for three years," rather than playing his first NBA game outside of a handful of summer-league contests.
Bryant caught himself watching Nash and gaining a new appreciation for him.
"You play against him on the defensive side of the floor and it's kind of a two-dimensional view," Bryant said. "On the offensive side (as a teammate), you can see what he's looking at. You see some of the reads he makes.
"It's pretty phenomenal."
Reviewing the play in which Nash hit him for the open 3-pointer, Bryant said he resisted the temptation to cut to the basket or to yell for the ball. He said he knew if he stayed put, Nash would find him and the ball would end up in the basket.
"It's a joy to kind of watch him manipulate the defense like that," Bryant said. "It's tough. We're going to put the defense in a really tough position with a guard who can handle the ball and pass as well as he can, and also shoot."
And to think, the Lakers' guards have been together for only a week.
"It felt pretty good, to be honest," Nash said. "It's only going to get better. I can't complain about that part of the game. Hopefully, he can save some energy and get some (shots) and get some rhythm without having to put his head down and take on a team."