EPISODE 44: Smush Parker's Kobe beef and refereeing dream.
I read a passage on Friday, in ESPN.com’s story about how Los Angeles finally won the heart of Shohei Ohtani, that made me marvel. Because in the Dodgers’ meeting with the player the entire sport was courting, they had a secret closer.
A video message, from a legendary figure, which suddenly appeared on-screen:
Back in 2017, Bryant had filmed the clip as a favor to the team. […]
"That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting," Ohtani told ESPN through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. "I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message."
When Bryant said Ohtani's name, it took him aback. They never met, but Ohtani marveled at Bryant's commitment, to his craft, to his sport, to his team. Mizuhara, who is as much adviser to Ohtani as the conduit for his words, grew up in Los Angeles and understood what it meant for Bryant to vouch for the Dodgers. A minute of his time, of the presence he still casts, felt like a wonderful eternity.
Kobe Bryant has this effect on people. Now, I suspect, more than ever.
Which made me think of the legendary figure who appears on PTFO today:
Because if you recall Smush’s name, it’s most likely in the context of Kobe, who shared the starting backcourt of the Los Angeles Lakers with him from 2005 to 2007. Although the word share might suggest that the experience was more voluntary than it really was, considering what Kobe would go out of his way to say about Smush, for years, after they played together.
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.
It went on and on like this, as you’ll see in today’s episode. Smush Parker got caricatured as a scrub who just didn’t love the game enough.
Which is a shame.
Because I believe that the beats of Smush’s career arc — from his childhood inside The Cage, on West 4th Street, to his journeys through the NBA, and then across the world — are a genuine legend unto itself. He is both a revered figure in New York City basketball and a Forrest Gump character, in the middle of random historical events, like the Malice at the Palace. He’s a guy willing to tell the truth about the things he’s lived, in spite of any online armies arrayed against him.
And the career Smush Parker is dedicated to now — working to become just the fourth NBA player, ever, to become an NBA referee (!) — is history, in its own way.
DKN/YOUTUBE SPOILER ALERT:
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