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Smush Parker says he stopped passing Kobe Bryant the ball

Oct 12, 2012, 9:12 AM EDT

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

Kobe Bryant reverted to one of his favorite past times the other day, smacking around Smush Parker like his own personal piñata. He said Smush shouldn’t have been in the NBA but the Lakers were cheap and “let him walk on.” Which is how it felt.

But Smush — playing in China the past couple years — is convinced what did him in with the Lakers was not his below average play (PERs of 13.4 and 11.6 in two years) but rather that he wouldn’t kiss Kobe’s… ring. We’ll say ring.

Parker went on Hard 2 Guard Internet radio and said Kobe was a terrible teammate and that was the real problem. Larry Brown Sports listened to the interview and gives us highlights.

“You can’t knock the man’s legacy, you can’t knock what he’s done in basketball. His work ethic is tremendous. There’s not an ounce of hate in my blood whatsoever. The guy can play basketball — you’ve seen that throughout his career.

“What I don’t like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don’t like that side of Kobe Bryant….

“The reason I wasn’t a Laker after my second year is because I didn’t bow down to [Kobe]. I didn’t kiss his a–. I wasn’t kissing his feet. Quite frankly, towards the end of the second season, I stopped passing him the ball. I stopped giving him the ball. I started looking him off.”

Smush tells stories, like the team going out for a bonding dinner before a playoff series against Phoenix and Kobe sitting at his own table with his security guards. Which does sound very Kobe. He’s gruff.

Two points here. First, Kobe was aloof and was not a great team leader at that time, something he has admitted he has worked to change. He has said he tried to hang out more with guys on the road. But you know what Smush — so what? It’s the NBA, you don’t have to like the guy, but when he’s clear and away the best player on the team you still have to pass him the ball. Be professional. Kobe only really talks with guys he respects. He’s more likely to have dinner or even a conversation with Steve Nash than Smush Parker. (Of course, Steve Nash is an old-school pro who couldn’t really care less if Kobe doesn’t talk to him.)

Second, Parker wants to know why if he doesn’t belong in the NBA why he was the third leading scorer on those Lakers teams, why he put up stats? Frankly, because those teams sucked and he had the ball so he got to shoot 10 times a game. Look who finished behind Parker in scoring on those teams — Chris Mihm, Brian Cook, Kwame Brown, Laron Profit and so on. Smush got his moment by default. Parker wasn’t efficient and didn’t make good decisions, but he was still the best option Phil Jackson had on that team.

I say to this day that Phil Jackson taking a team that started Smush Parker and Kwame Brown and getting them to the playoffs may have been his most impressive coaching job.

  1. lakerryan - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    Very well written Kurt

  2. dysraw1 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    ego is a hard thing to recognize especially when looking in the mirror

  3. keyshawn22 - Oct 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Kobe is the worst teammate of all time. The very picture of the selfish nba player

    • jedifriedchicken - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:28 AM

      Please. Jordan was a lot bigger of an A-hole to his teammates than Kobe even was. He punched Steve Kerr in the face, he threaten to do the same to Robert Parish, RP’s last year in the league, until RP put him in his place, and he was even throwing teammates, and i think some said his kids, under the bus in his hall of fame speech even.

      Then you got guys like Allen Iverson, who wouldn’t accept his place on his teams’ benches or practice. Shaq always came into a season fat. Starbury. There have been a lot of worse teammates in the league than Kobe.

    • ludachrisgsx - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      Outside of Tim Duncan and a few others, this can be said for most of the great (or popular) NBA players of the past 25 years. You can’t say with a straight face that Kobe has been much different than Jordan in this regard. They both have massive egos, they rub teammates the wrong way, and are both scorers first – outside of the marketing world, probably not very likable human beings. If Kobe’s the worst teammate of all time, Jordan isn’t that far behind him based on your definition. Welcome to the world of the NBA, where role models are rarely found – just ask Sir Charles.

    • aboogy123456 - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      Keyshawn, way to not be updated on basketball since ten years ago. did you see kobe last year? He was arguably the best teammate in the league when he was injured for the last couple weeks of the season. He cheered his team on and was always supportive because he wanted to help them be better. I don’t understand this theme that people think kobe is such a ballhog, bad teammate, etc., you are so misinformed and don’t actually watch games do you?

    • aboogy123456 - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      Keyshawn, way to not be updated on basketball since ten years ago. did you see kobe last year? He was arguably the best teammate in the league when he was injured for the last couple weeks of the season. He cheered his team on and was always supportive because he wanted to help them be better. I don’t understand this theme that people think kobe is such a ballhog, bad teammate, etc., you are so misinformed and don’t actually watch games do you?

      • macka4 - May 29, 2014 at 1:53 AM

        It sure isn’t that way when he’s playing.

    • macka4 - May 29, 2014 at 1:47 AM

      All time? Probably not far off, though. He (Kobe) probably wishes he could pick his teammates.

  4. nbascreed - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:02 AM

    “He’s gruff” It’s worse than that Kurt. He’s needlessly arrogant and aloof. I personally think that has A LOT to do with him growing up so far away from other inner city kids who learn very early the value of a true bond with a friend. Off the pop psychology soapbox, you can call it what you want but you can’t call it leadership and I’m disappointed that, as astute as Kobe is, he didn’t realize early on that relationships with teammates and how they VIEWED you was INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.

    Smush isn’t an idiot he knew he didn’t have starter game, but how did it help him to have to face that realization every night in ADDITION to Kobe’s ragging?

    • phaden27 - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      Would you have taken Smush as a starting point guard? No.
      Would you take Kobe if we re-did the draft today? Yes.
      Stop pretending you know the intelligence of a man you never met.

      • mister12 - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:04 AM

        Would you let Kobe dis you because he is Kobe? Looks like a yes…lol..gtfoh!

      • nbascreed - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:10 AM

        1. I’m unsure of how your first two questions counter any conclusions inherent in my analysis. Please advise.

        2. I don’t have to know Mamba personally to offer analysis. It’s called opination.

        3. You don’t have to defend Kobe against The Screedster bro, there’s no bigger fan of the guy than me. The problem a lot of fanatics have is accepting rationale well articulated criticism levied against their favorite star.

      • phaden27 - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

        It’s not about gettin dissed it’s about being good. You can’t tell me you think Smush iPad a good player. You can’t. Period.

      • phaden27 - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:34 AM


    • ludachrisgsx - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      I’ll give you that – Kobe should have realized earlier on that his leadership role needed much improvement if he was going to find success without Shaq. I was disappointed in him as a fan with the way he handled himself early on. I think it had more to do with his early NBA success than his not growing up in the inner city – I don’t think you have to grow up in the ghetto to find humility and the value in relationships. I also think he’s something of an introvert, he likely doesn’t make friends easily due to his personality. That doesn’t make him a terrible person, but it surely won’t make him popular with the masses.

      Kobe is a complex individual and that’s what makes him so polarizing. He’s not the marketing magnet that Jordan was, and it makes his flaws a lot easier to point out and rag on. Kobe doesn’t seem any more arrogant than most of the bigger stars in the league, certainly no more arrogant than the guy everyone measures him against (Jordan). Yet, a lot of people hate him with a passion and point to his arrogance constantly, while at the same time looking past all of Jordan’s flaws and constantly praising him. It seems a little silly – almost like saying “I love Coke but I hate Pepsi”.

      It’s funny watching people criticizing one star so heavily and then praising another who isn’t all that much different. It’s entertaining actually.

  5. paulhargis53 - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    Nah, none of Kobes ex team mates ever have a bad thing to say…right lackerswallower?

    I think former players would know more than you. But you’ll come on here defending your bf Kobe.

    If Lakerluver gets on a planr to China, alert security, that’s how much of a nutjob he is about Kobe.
    Think Gil Renard and Primo in the movie The Fan.

  6. zblott - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Good thing Smush’s statistical efficiencies weren’t a more integral part of those Lakers and control the ball more or his 52% eFG, 2.05 Ast-Tov rate, and 2.7 Steal% would have really hurt the team’s performance.

    Kobe: 49%, 1.44, 2.4

    • ludachrisgsx - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

      Kobe certainly wasn’t the most efficient in those years even with his high scoring – and he won’t go down as the most efficient shooting guard when he hangs them up. But are you suggesting he should have let Smush take more shots, or Cook, or Mihm, etc? On a team like that back in ’04-’07, should we have expected to see Kobe getting more assists and fewer turnovers? If you were defending those Lakers, wouldn’t you just triple team Kobe every time and make any of the other guys beat you? I’m sure that would make any super star shooting guard a lot less efficient, knowing he’s being expected to carry the load. Not sure what you’re getting at though.

    • cosanostra71 - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      Clearly Kobe was holding that team back. If only the Lakers had traded him so that Smush could have led those teams to their full potential.

  7. paulhargis53 - Oct 12, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Zblott: Great read! Too bad lakers fans don’t want facts presented to them that says anything other then they want to see or hear. If any of them take the time to read it(doubtful) You’ll be branded a hater and a google expert and a smartphone gm. L.A. fans have SOME(_not all) very bad fans. Anyway, very insightful article.

    • dal24la - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

      No, your branded a hater when you nod at ex teammates calling Kobe a selfish and a jerk (which Kobe even admitted he was) than going around an praising Jordan who was much more “selfish” and a bigger jerk than Kobe. How many stories do we have about Kobe punching his teammates in practice? None.

      • badintent - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:26 AM

        You can start with Sasha and the list goes from there.John Starks challenged MJ to meet him after the game, MJ punked out. Of course.Why Ewing never knocked down MJ in mid-air I’ll never know, getthoe punks tried to do it to me all the time when I went Alley -Op on their ass.

  8. mister12 - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Kobe is a great talent, but has a $hitty personality (so does MJ). At the end of the day ur a man first…

    • phaden27 - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      Personality didn’t win rings, dedication and play did.
      Smush has got a lot of bark but it has no bite, honestly what can Smush say to Kobe? Lol.

      • mister12 - Oct 12, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        say *Parker…this article wasnt mostly about his play, it was more about (and titled) why he said “F” Kobe. Smush said all the things youre saying about Kobe but he said he had a jacked up personality. this proves my point further. Kobe could urinate on his RINGS and would still lick them.

    • ludachrisgsx - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM

      No argument there.

  9. lakerryan - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Kobe wants to win. If your gm gives you kwame smush and mihm I don’t blame him for being mad. Kobe is a gifted passer. He’s also very “you want the ball then prove you deserve it” he averaged as many assists as Jason Kidd last year because he has teammates he trusts. To say he’s the most selfish player of all time is wrong.

  10. emosnar - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    I don’t see how this is a good article. Regardless of the facts. Yesterday we see an article where Kobe preemptively attacks Smush. When Smush responds, Kurt proceeds to insults the dudes NBA career the rest of the article. He was just responding to what Kobe said. Why does he need to be further cannon fodder for Kurt? New rule: if you ever played in the NBA – ever and starter minutes at that you cannot be considered bad or a player that sucked. That is the top tier level for talent and if you made it there at one point then you obviously have skills even if its not to the elite level of a Kobe, Lebron etc.

    Just like how Kurt is not a elite writer, but he writes for a top level company, even though his take is way off at most times, hey he made it so he really can’t suck he is just lesser than the talent above him. He is the John Tesh of writing but hey a few people will buy his album.

    Keep up the good work Tesh (wink).

  11. jedifriedchicken - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    Smush is someone who really didn’t understand how lucky he was to be in the NBA. So he acted like a selfish, entitled jerk, with illusions of grandeur, and the Lakers dumped him when something better came along, namely, rookie, Jordan Farmar. Miami gave him a second chance, but he squandered that after getting into a fight with a female parking attendant. Two other teams gave him a look, but I guess they weren’t impressed because he’s been playing overseas ever since. What a waste.

  12. thatswhatsgooood - Oct 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    That a boy Smush. Reppin’ Fordham and the A10.

  13. paleihe - Oct 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    I don’t know how horrible Smush was, cause I really just don’t remember much of him. But, the only thing I remember is in the playoffs against the Suns when he stole the ball from Nash in the final seconds of the game, and then Kobe hit the shot for the Lakers to win.

    Kobe was pretty happy then.

  14. mannyicey - Oct 12, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Here’s the issue: Kobe Bryant may be a terrible teammate. But I would rather have a terrible teammate on my team winning rings than some nice, great teammate winning citizenship awards in China.

    We all love Michael Jordan. Think he’s a great teammate? Go ask Mario Chalmers how fantastic Lebron and Wade are as teammates. Being a great teammate is a nice-to-have. But it’s not a requirement for winning rings. And aren’t rings the reason they are playing this game?

  15. dal24la - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Wonder why your not in the NBA anymore Smush? Because your were not smart enough to pass the ball to Kobe in his prime.

  16. paulhargis53 - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    You show me where either Zblott or I said Jordan was a great teammate. You can’t, because we didn’t.

    Quit trying to deflect the debate.

  17. aboogy123456 - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    Smush Parker is horrible. Go look at the stats for the game where Kobe scored 81 points. Kobe was absolutely hot, but there were all these times where smush would try to force his own offense instead of feeding kobe on a historical night. Smush had something like 13 points that game, and I’m convinced that Kobe would have had at least 90 that game if smush wasn’t trying to “get his”.

    • reastnt - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      What a dumb comment. Parker was 5 for 11 that game – which is better than Kobe’s career shooting percentage. It was a real game – the Lakers came back from a significant first half deficit. You really think a teammate should be thinking “Don’t play our game, just feed Kobe” while a competitive game is going on? Maybe in the fourth quarter, which was mostly garbage time, but how many shots did Parker take then? Zero. He was 2 for 2 in the third quarter and 0 for 0 in the fourth quarter. Didn’t even play the last 7:24 of the game.

      And he also had 4 assists, 3 of which were to Kobe. To say that Kobe would have had at least 90 if Parker wasn’t trying to “get his” is completely ridiculous and inaccurate.

      • themars211 - Oct 12, 2012 at 8:05 PM

        If I remember correctly the Lakers were getting there ass kicked until Kobe went bonkers and took over the game. So even with Smush doing whatever he was in that game it didn’t amount to much. Also remember the Phoenix playoff game where Kobe was basically like eff u guys? What did Mr. Parker do then with Kobe letting the rest of the team carry the load. But I guess he was a bad teammate then also? You can’t have it both ways. Kobe shoots too much but when he doesn’t shoot and let the rest of team do there thing you scream that and holler that he should take over the game. In the end Smush by his own admission was scare and he admitted as much.

  18. stickesabado - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    lol you guys and your hate for LakerLuver lol…

  19. ebrownwareagle - Oct 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    SMUSH PARKER! We talking bout SMUSH PARKER! Not a STUD! But SMUSH PARKER! Lmao… Really! True Indeed he was in the league, kudos; but amongst his peers in the NBA. He was a SCRUB! And that’s why he is in China, and entering into his 17th season a 5xNBA Champ and still top 2 in scoring! But we talking about SMUSH PARKER! Lol

  20. passerby23 - Oct 12, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    As with any accusation, there’s always two sides to the story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Was Kobe an arrogant prick to a lot of people, including teammates? That wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Is Parker a little bitter he was let go and then blames his release on not kissing Kobe’s ass? Probably.

    Smush Parker was an average point guard at best, but when you’re in the NBA (and starting for that matter – doesn’t matter how bad the team is), you can play. Because he’s not on Kobe’s skill level doesn’t mean he doesn’t make a valid point. He acknowledges Kobe’s basketball ability and his criticism of him as a person sounds legit to me.

  21. davidly - Oct 12, 2012 at 8:11 PM

    It’s clear from the sequence of commentary from the two players over the last couple of days that Kobe Bryant is, indeed, still a butthole. Michael Jordan he ain’t…
    …but, you know… ;-D

    Speaking of being a professional: for someone of Bryant’s stature–with everything he has going for him–to refer to a former teammate, who managed to get onto several different rosters over eight seasons averaging 25 minutes a game, starting a couple hundred of those–and to say he shouldn’t have been in the NBA at all, is dishonest, probably because of the afore-admitted personality problem, which, again, apparently hasn’t gone away.

    He may not be a player of such great skill that he can bring an otherwise efficient offense to a screeching halt, but least Parker’s response was honest.

  22. omniusprime - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    Smush Parker couldn’t even carry Kobe Bryant’s jock strap much less talk smack about him. Smush was a pathetic excuse of an NBA player as Kobe said, notice he had to get his career made in China. Smush was too stupid and lazy to be Kobe’s teammate and didn’t like that Kobe pushed him to be better, but Smush was too lazy to respond properly.

    Go Kobe!!! Go Lakers!!!

  23. rjmarrella - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM

    Egos and behavior like Kobe are why basketball has slipped into the second tier of professional sports.

  24. diamondmo33 - Oct 22, 2012 at 4:24 PM


  25. shaab23 - May 24, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    You have to give Kobe some credit for changing his attitude during Phil’s 2nd stint. It took him a few years of disappointment post-shaq/phil to realize he needed to tailor his ego a bit. It also taught him that he could not do it alone…

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