Kobe Bryant struggled to contain his laughter.
Following practice Friday at the Lakers' training facility in El Segundo, reporters wasted no time informing him that Smush Parker was offended about comments Bryant made regarding why his former teammate doesn't belong in the NBA.
"There's really nothing else to say," Bryant said with a smirk. "I said what I had to say."
Bryant said plenty as he sat at his locker Wednesday before the Lakers' exhibition against the Portland Trail Blazers in Ontario. Although he nursed a strained right shoulder that has since healed, Bryant remained in a jovial mood. He joked that he's pestered new teammate Steve Nash for winning the 2005-06 MVP with Phoenix, which eliminated the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
"I tell Steve, you won MVP but I was playing with Smush Parker," Bryant said. "He's playing with [Leandro] Barbosa. I'm playing with Smush and Kwame [Brown]. My goodness. 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 fired back in a 35-minute interview with Hard 2 Guard Radio.
“You can't knock the man's legacy, you can't knock what he's done in basketball," Parker told Hard 2 Guard Radio, as transcribed by Larry Brown Sports. "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."
Parker seemed most offended in two areas. He believed it was unfair for Bryant to criticize him about his play when he averaged 11.5 points and 3.7 assists a game and finished ninth in the NBA with 140 steals during the 2005-06 season. The following season, Parker posted similar numbers in points (11.1) and assists (2.8).
Parker also expressed frustration that Bryant refused to talk to him during his two-year stint with the Lakers. "He tells me I need more accolades under my belt before I come talk to him," Parker said. "He was dead serious." Parker said the frustration wore on him so much that he refused to pass to Bryant.
Bryant joked that he was "devastated" upon hearing Parker avoided giving him the ball. He laughed and appeared to be holding back multiple times when reporters relayed Parker's frustrations.
Parker came under criticism for other reasons. He was known to have a surly attitude and his professionalism came into question, including the time he missed a team plane because he overslept. Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Parker never saw eye to eye, either.
"I gave him his little 30 minutes of fame," Bryant said. "It's all good. I wish him the best of luck. He's playing in China, right?"
Parker said in his interview that he's played in China the last two years and plans to again in December.
"I wish him the best of luck," Bryant said. "Maybe he'll get back to the NBA one day and see what it's like up close again."
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