The Los Angeles Lakers teams of the mid-2000s, after the trade of Shaquille O’Neal, are mainly remembered solely for the ridiculous scoring outbursts of Kobe Bryant. On the other side of the spectrum from that era is starting point guard Smush Parker.
Parker spent two years with the Lakers, starting 162 of 164 games over that stretch. At the time, Parker had played just two seasons in the NBA and showed little to suggest that he was a starter in the league.
But here he was leading Phil Jackson’s triangle offense with many fans wondering how it happened. Parker himself wasn’t sure he would even make the team.
In an interview with Matt Caputo of Bleacher Report, Parker said that Jackson couldn’t even remember his name, but suddenly did when he told him he would be starting:
“In preseason, [then-head coach] Phil Jackson never called me ‘Smush,’ but he called me everything else—’Smash,’ ‘Smooch’ and ‘Spat,'” Parker remembers. “I didn’t know if I’d get cut or not, but I was still on the roster opening night, waiting for the ‘Can we see you in our office?’ call. Right before the game on opening night, he came up to me and said, ‘Oh yeah, Smush, you’re starting.'”
Parker’s numbers were pretty adequate in his two years in Los Angeles as he averaged 11.3 points and 3.2 assists while shooting 36.6 percent from 3-point range.
Of course he has become one of the most hated players ever amongst Lakers fans, particularly after a very public back-and-forth feud with Kobe.
The idea of Jackson being unable to remember exactly what Parker’s name is and calling him everything else is also quite hilarious and something he would probably do on purpose as some sort of motivational technique. But hate him or love him, everyone remembers Smush Parker’s name now.
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