Feud Between Kobe Bryant and Smush Parker Highlights How Far Lakers Have Come

At the start of NBA training camps earlier this month, Kobe Bryant told all who would listen (including Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports) that this year's Los Angeles Lakers squad would be the most enticing collection of talent with which he'd ever played:

"On its face, it’s the best talent I’ve been around. Whether that translates into winning a championship remains to be seen. But just on paper you’re talking Defensive Player of the Years, MVPs, All-Stars. You’re talking about a myriad of things. Guys who are at the top of their position at one point or another. It’s pretty dope."

Much was already expected of this group after GM Mitch Kupchak snagged Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in a month-and-a-half apan this past summer. Kobe's comments only intensified the pressure under which they'll all play in LA.

Thanks to Bryant, who's eying another zenith—equaling (and later, perhaps, topping) Michael Jordan's six rings—to cap off a career replete with peaks and valleys.

Speaking of which, the Black Mamba looked back less than fondly on one such valley—the 2005-06 season—prior to the Lakers' 93-75 exhibition loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.

When asked by the attendant media about teaming up with Nash, his long-time rival with the Phoenix Suns, Bryant admitted he was still irked about the fact that his new backcourt buddy was named the NBA MVP that season, despite the fact that Kobe led the league in scoring and carried a cast of scrubs, including Smush Parker and Kwame Brown, to 45 wins and a playoff berth.

At which point, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times, the Mamba ripped into his old teammates, venomous fangs and all:

"I tell Steve, you won MVP but I was playing with Smush Parker. He's playing with [Leandro] Barbosa. I'm playing with Smush and Kwame [Brown]. My goodness."


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