Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference at the Lakers training facility on May 11, 2011 in El Segundo, California.
After Laker star Kobe Bryant deemed him unworthy to have played in the NBA, Smush Parker launched an offensive against his former teammate.
Wednesday an injured Bryant told reporters that William Henry "Smush" Parker was "the worst. He shouldn't have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. So we let him walk on." Kobe also criticized other members of his team, but singled out Parker.
“I’m lost for words. It makes me blush. For my name to still come out of that man’s mouth? It makes me blush. It makes no sense,” Parker told Hard 2 Guard Radio, which was later transcribed by Larry Brown Sports.
The point guard and the shooter never got along, and Friday Parker explained why.
“What I personally don’t like about him is the man that he is, his personality, how he treats people. I don’t mess with that man. I don’t like that side of Kobe Bryant," Parker said. "Basketball is a team sport. It’s team-oriented. It’s not an individual sport. It’s not tennis or golf, it is a team sport. When you are the star of the team, you have to make your teammates feel comfortable. You have to make them feel welcome. You have to make it a good working environment. He did not do that at all.”
Parker claimed in the 30-minute interview that he was told by Bryant that he shouldn't talk to the star. “Midway through the first season, I tried to at least have a conversation with Kobe Bryant – he's my teammate, he's a co-worker of mine, I see his face every day when I go into work. I tried to talk with him about football. He tells me I can’t talk to him, with a serious face. He tells me I need more accolades under my belt before I can come talk to him. He was dead serious.”
Kobe didn't talk with his teammates, Parker alleged. “He never made any attempt to develop any kind of friendships with any of his teammates. Not when I was there. On road trips, he traveled with his security guards. Those were the guys he talked to. He didn’t talk to any of his teammates. On the team plane, he sat in the back of the plane by himself."
That loner behavior continued off the court, Parker said, even on a moment meant to bond over post-season success.
"I’ll tell you a funny story. It's not funny it's kind of sad," Parker continued. "My first year there, we made the playoffs. We’re playing the Phoenix Suns. Phil Jackson gives Lamar Odom his [American Express] black card to take the team out to dinner and build camaraderie for the playoffs. We show up as a team and hang out as a team. We’re all sitting at one table, the whole team, but Kobe Bryant was sitting by himself at his own table in the corner."
At one point though, the point guard said that he stopped passing one of the NBA's best scorers the ball. He claims that the Lakers didn't resign him because he didn't suck up to the MVP, but perhaps it had to do with who he was passing to.
“The reason I wasn’t a Laker after my second year is because I didn’t bow down to Kobe," Parker said. "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."
Parker, who now plays in Latin America, quoted a famous rapper to help his defense.
“Kobe Bryant says I’m the worst point guard, that I should have never made it into the NBA. He just frowns at the thought of me playing in the backcourt with him," Parker said. "Like Jay-Z says, people lie, numbers don’t. Just go to the stats.”
Finally Parker, who averaged over 11 points a game during his two years with the Lakers argued, “if I don’t deserve to play in the NBA, why am I third on all the stat sheets on the Lakers team those years? I’m top three in all the categories.”