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Kobe’s tough love on teammates: The Smush Parker edition


It’s not a secret Kobe Bryant got into fights with his teammates. For him, it was simply a way to push them harder. This trait was similar to his idol, Michael Jordan, who even punched Steve Kerr in one of their practices back in the day. What makes MJ and Kobe special is that a lot of their stories are about trash-talking their own teammates. 

Smush Parker on talking to Kobe during practice

Smush Parker and Kobe Bryant played together from 2005-07. Even though he only stayed there for two years, Smush had a love-hate relationship with the Black Mamba. He shared one instance in an interview with ESPN.

"One day in practice I tried to talk to Kobe outside of basketball about football. He looked at me dead serious and said 'You can't talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me.'

Smush Parker, Fadeaway World

On the other hand, Kobe was brutal towards his teammate in public as well. In 2012, more than five years after they played together, Bryant was still not too forgiving based on his interview with the L.A. Times. 

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“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.”

Kobe bryant, LA Times

Parker was not the only one who was not safe. Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm were part of Kobe’s interviews about why those Lakers teams never won a title or why he did not win the MVP. What Kobe was saying was not entirely wrong. He did play with sub-par teammates, and anyone could tell he could have won something if he had teammates who were All-Star levels.

Parker regrets beef with Kobe

The untimely passing of Kobe in 2020 hit Parker hard because their beef was not resolved when the legend was still alive. Now, Smush will forever be haunted by it. Even though they were not precisely friends off the court, the former Laker shared that Kobe was thankful for him in some moments.

“In the Phoenix Suns playoff game, I hit a three to put us down two and stole the ball from Steve Nash, saved it from going out and Kobe came down and hit a layup to put it into overtime. He embraced me after that play, which was special for me."

Smush Parker, Bleacher Report

Kobe’s ill feelings towards his teammates were probably just his way to push them harder or explain in a light way why he failed to win MVPs or championships. He did the heavy lifting, almost pushing the Lakers to relevancy in those post-Shaq pre-Gasol years. For Parker, kudos to him for being a good sport and accepting it with a grain of salt. He looks back and smiles at the memories with Kobe, and wherever he is right now, the Black Mamba would probably smile, too. 

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