The Los Angeles Lakers are about to embark on the most anticipated regular season in the history of the franchise, but right now all anybody can do is talk about the brewing feud between Kobe Bryant and former Laker guard Smush Parker.
I guess discussing how Dwight Howard and Steve Nash will blend into the starting unit, the uncertainty surrounding the Lakers reserves and finding a backup for Nash has become tiresome.
Unfortunately Bryant has no one but himself to blame for this latest piece of nonsense, since he took it upon himself to throw an unwarranted jab at a defenseless Parker during an interview with The Orange County Register.
Bryant called Parker the "worst," which can be viewed in a number of ways depending on the situation, but Bryant went on to say that Parker didn't belong in the NBA and that the only reason the Lakers let him walk on to the team was that they were too cheap to pay a legitimate point guard.
Those are some harsh words from Bryant, and when you consider Parker's production during his two seasons as a Laker, the assessment is mostly inaccurate.
In 2005-06, Parker averaged 11.5 points per game, 3.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and shot nearly 45 percent from the field.
In contrast, during Derek Fisher's best season with the Lakers, in 2000-01, he averaged 11.5 points, 4.4 assists and three rebounds while shooting 41 percent from the field.
Those numbers don't mean Parker was better than Fisher, but they do call into question Kobe's claims about Parker's talent level.
Parker was not as bad a player as Bryant and Lakers fans would have you believe, but there is a reason he is no longer in the NBA, and it's likely the same reason he's still in Bryant's head.
Bryant's disdain for Parker probably has a lot more to do with Parker's lack of professionalism and his lazy approach to the game than with anything else.
I guess Parker reminded Bryant of a shorter, less talented version of former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, who coincidentally has a fan in Parker
Remember, Parker is the player who famously missed a flight to Detroit because he overslept, and his pettiness and petulance will not be forgotten by Lakers fans any time soon.
According to Kelly Dwyer at Yahoo! Sports, Parker has been taking subtle shots at Bryant for years, but Bryant has largely chosen to ignore him—until now.
I guess it's hard for Bryant not to reflect on Parker, when he looks across the locker room and sees a point guard like Nash, the player who beat Bryant for the league MVP award while Parker was still a Laker.
Maybe Bryant feels that talking about it is the best way to rid himself of the memory of two of the worst seasons team-wise in his career, but the best way to bury the Parker-Kwame Brown years would be by letting Parker continue to drift away into obscurity.
Did anyone else even know Parker has spent the last few seasons playing in China? I sure didn't, until Bryant gave him a reason to resurface again, and judging by Parker's lengthy response to Bryant's attack, the situation could continue to linger unless Kobe just lets it die.
Bryant laughed off Parker's rebuttal in this Los Angeles Times article and acknowledged that the only reason Parker's name is in the news is that he chose to put it there, but in the next breath he threw another shot at Parker by suggesting that maybe one day, Parker can make it back to the NBA to see what it's like.
That's likely to generate a few more choice words from Parker, who has found a way to keep his name relevant around the NBA, even though his game isn't.