It’s often misconstrued throughout Kobe Bryant’s illustrious, roller coaster and controversial career that Shaq was his most hated teammate at one point or another. And while it holds merit Shaq and Kobe damn near killed each other more times than we’ll truly ever know, Bean’s track record with one Smush Parker makes his time with O’Neal seem as natural as a Barack and Michelle fist pound.
A year and a half ago, I documented the rocky road through Lakerland that was the dynamic between Kobe and Smush. Sitting out Wednesday’s exhibition game against Portland with a strained shoulder resulting from what he did to Antwan Jamison in practice, the man who once averaged 35.4 points per game in 2005-2006 decided the time was right to throw Smush under the proverbial bus once more.
“I almost won an MVP with Smush Parker and Kwame Brown on my team,” Bryant said. “I was shooting 45 times a game. What was I supposed to do? Pass it to Chris Mihm or Kwame Brown?”
Kobe wasn’t done yet handing out shade either. The 2009 and 2010 Finals MVP went on to define Parker as “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.” Alright then. Let’s break this down into three quick points about why Kobe would continue to beat a dead horse. The triangle offense, if you will.
1. Smush will never be confused for a Hall of Fame player. We get it, but there has to be something else to the story we’re not being let in on. There’s hate in Kobe’s heart that’s even extreme for a supreme asshole like himself.
2. Even with Steve Nash as the Lakers’ best point guard since Magic, Kobe fans will never forgive him for winning the 2006 MVP over Kobe. Seriously, bring it up around one of them watch their mood change.
3. It wasn’t like Kobe was the biggest “people person” in the world. Shaq left town. Phil once called the guy “uncoachable” and tried to trade him twice: once in the 1999-2000 season for Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion and later in January 2004 when tensions reached a boiling point. So yeah, it’s not like he was a complete angel worthy of playing the “Why me?” card at the drop of a dime.
But to be fair, that ’05-’06 squad was putrid. Brian Cook, Stanislav Medvedenko, Kwame Brown, Luke Walton (team weedman, so he was cool), Von Wafer, a rookie Andrew Bynum? How that team won 45 games in the Western Conference and damn near beat Phoenix in the first round is beyond me.* That squad is definitely top three of the superstar-driven teams in the 2000s to overachieve. The other two? The 2001 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers.
* – And they may have had Kobe not wanted to prove a point in Game 7 by not shooting because people said he shot too much in a Game 6 loss. A game where he dropped 50-8-5-3 on 20-35 shooting.