One thing became clear in the second week of the Lakers’ exhibition season: Smush happens.
As if the revitalized Lakers lineup wasn’t enough of a headline generator, former Laker Smush Parker fired back at Kobe Bryant after being verbally cuffed by him.
Parker, starting point guard for the Lakers from 2005 through 2007, said Bryant was mean to his teammates. Or maybe just to Parker.
“What I personally don’t like about him is the man that he is, his personality, how he treats people,” Parker told Hard 2 Guard radio. “When you come into a situation where you are the star of the team, you are face of the NBA, you are the face of Nike, you are the face of the Los Angeles Lakers, you have to make your teammates feel comfortable. You have to make them feel comfortable in a working environment. He didn’t do that at all…
“Midway through the first season, I tried to at least have a conversation with Kobe Bryant. He is a teammate, he is a co-worker of mine, I see his face every day when I go into work. I tried to talk to him about football and he tells me I can’t talk to him. I need more accolades under my belt before I come and talk to him. He was dead serious.”
Parker was responding to Bryant’s comments Wednesday.
“I tell Steve [Nash], ‘You won MVP, but I was playing with Smush Parker,'” Bryant said. “I’m playing with Smush and Kwame [Brown]. My goodness.”
Bryant added that “Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA, but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. We let him walk on.”
Parker answered with a 35-minute interview.
“The only words that that man ever told me on the court was ‘I’m going to be open right here. Get me the ball,'” Parker said about Bryant. “Locker room, there was not much dialogue there. He’s a very to-himself kind of guy…
“He never made an attempt to develop any kind of friendship with any of his teammates, not while I was there.
“On road trips, he traveled with his security guards. His security guards were, I guess, his best friends. He didn’t talk to any of his teammates. On the team plane, he sat in the back of the plane by himself.”
Parker told a story about when former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson gave Lamar Odom a credit card to take the team out for dinner in Phoenix in 2006.
“It’s the playoffs, you want to hang out together,” Parker said. “We’re all sitting at one table, the whole team. Kobe Bryant is sitting at a table by himself in a corner somewhere. He came over for 15 minutes, but when the food came and for most of the night, he had his own table in the corner.”
Parker, 31, had a tumultuous two-year run with the Lakers. He averaged 11.3 points and 3.2 assists and was headed toward a possible contract extension when he publicly criticized Jackson’s substitution patterns in April 2007.
Jackson proceeded to bench Parker in favor of rookie Jordan Farmar before the playoffs began. Parker was not retained by the Lakers after that and played nine games with Miami in 2007-08 before being waived in the face of an alleged altercation with a parking-lot valet. He then played 19 games with the Clippers.
Parker has since played in China, Venezuela, Greece and Russia, and he’ll head back to China in December.
“Listen, the reason why I wasn’t a Laker after my second year is because I didn’t bow down to [Bryant]. I wasn’t kissing his feet,” he said. “Quite frankly, toward the end of the second season, I stopped passing him the ball. I started looking him off. The triangle is a team-oriented offense, not one person.
“Kobe Bryant says I’m the worst point guard, that I should have never made it in the NBA. He frowns at the thought of me playing in the backcourt with him.
“I’m from Brooklyn. Like Jay-Z says, ‘People lie, numbers don’t.’ Just go to the stats. If I’m so bad, if I didn’t deserve to play in the NBA, why am I No. 3 on all the stat sheets from 2005, 2006, 2007, on the Lakers team those years?”
In 2006-07, Parker was fourth on the team in scoring, assists and minutes, led in steals and was 10th in rebounding. In 2005-06, Parker was third in scoring, assists and minutes, was second in steals and eighth in rebounds.
Bryant couldn’t stop laughing Friday when talking about Parker firing back at him.
“I was devastated,” Bryant said. “What’s he going to do? ‘Yeah, Kobe’s right?’ I gave him his little 30 minutes of fame again. I wish him the best of luck. Maybe he’ll get back to the NBA one day and can see what it’s like up close again.”