Former Laker guard Smush Parker, who's been out of the NBA since 2007-08, is still getting a few Black Mamba-aided minutes in the spotlight.
Parker made an appearance on ESPN's Highly Questionable recently, fielding multiple questions about Bryant, his teammate from 2005-07. The topic seemed about as appealing to Parker as the thought of his return might sound to Lakers fans, but the point guard still relayed one story from his Bryant experience, via Lakers Nation's Ryan Ward:
He told me one day at practice — I tried to talk to him outside of basketball about football. And he looked at me in practice and was dead serious and said, 'You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me.'
If the story sounds the slightest bit extreme (it probably shouldn't considering the people involved), just know that it's not the first time Parker has shared it. He also described that moment during a 2012 appearance on Hard 2 Guard Radio, adding he was never a fan of Bryant's "personality, how he treats people," via Larry Brown Sports.
Parker wasn't high on Bryant as a person. Bryant was even less enamored with Parker as a player.
"Smush Parker was the worst," Bryant said before an exhibition in 2012, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times. "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 made 82 appearances over his first two seasons in the league, which he split between the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns. He signed with the Lakers in 2005 and averaged 33.8 minutes a night in 2005-06, more than double his previous career high.
"Smush got his moment by default," NBC Sports' Kurt Helin noted. "Parker wasn’t efficient and didn’t make good decisions, but he was still the best option Phil Jackson had on that team."
He was nearly devoid of competition at the point guard spot, competing with only Sasha Vujacic and what was left of then-12-year veteran Aaron McKie. Parker logged another 30 minutes per game the following season, as his competition shifted to rookie Jordan Farmar and journeyman Shammond Williams.
Parker has since bounced around several international leagues, all but disappearing off the NBA radar.
Except, of course, whenever Bryant's name comes up. The mere mention of the Mamba is apparently enough to keep the forgettable from being, well, forgotten.