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Get to know Smush

During the preseason, you couldn't find an NBA analyst, journalist or expert not making a variation Smush118_ip22vykn of same "Lakers starting point guard" joke, all of which ended with the punchline, "Smush Parker."

Look who's laughing now.

To say Smush has turned a few heads after three games would be a serious understatement. Granted, it's still early, and the question remains whether he can do this for 82 games. But what began as an under the radar free agency signing has turned into an electric roster addition. I figured fans don't know much about the journeyman PG- save 16 games last season with Phoenix and Detroit, he's been playing in Europe and the NBDL since 2003- so after Sunday's win against Denver, I talked a bit with the man of the hour. The conversation began with Smush discussing his decision to leave Fordham early in 2002.  He went undrafted, signing with the Cavs as a free agent. The rest, as they (and he) would say, is history in the making.

SP: I was thinking I was gonna come out. I wanted to test the waters, see what the competition was like. That was my first goal, to put my name in the draft. And I had a great camp. And my name was buzzing and teams were talking. I thought I had a chance to go first round and that's the way I was projected to go. Unfortunately... I didn't get drafted, but I have a do or die attitude. I knew that I belonged in the league. I knew I could play at this level. And I saw the competition and I thought I was better than the competition at that draft.

AK: Were there ever points where you were thinking, "Oh, man! Maybe I made the wrong decision and came out too early?"
SP: Oh, no. Never. Like I said, I went to camp thinking, "Okay, I'm just going to camp to test the waters and see what the level of competition to get to the NBA was like. If I need to go back to college play another year or two. And when I got there, I was playing well, and my name was circulating through NBA teams, the organizations, and I decided to keep my name in. I felt I had a pretty good chance of getting drafted.

AK: And during those periods, either in the NBDL or in Europe, how did you keep telling yourself, "I'm going to be back. This is going to happen."
SP: I understand that, you know, it was all about opportunity. There are so few opportunities here in the league... But I had my foot in the door. Teams knew about me. I was just being patient. I knew that with hard work and dedication I was gonna end up back in the NBA.

AK: Were the Lakers a team that you had ever fantasized about playing for as a kid?
SP: Well, growing up, I was a Chicago Bulls fan. Michael Jordan. And I didn't have cable growing up, I had regular TV, and they aired Chicago Bulls games over the TV. So I was always a Chicago Bulls/Michael Jordan fan growing up.

AK: So the Lakers were probably a team you fantasized about beating growing up.
SP: Yeah, pretty much.

AK: And now that you're here, what's it been like for you so far?
SP: Oh, it's been a great experience so far. It's a wonderful opportunity for me to come in and be a part of this organization. And I plan on taking full advantage of it. This team just has so much history. And I feel like I'm a part of history. I'm making history right now.

AK: What do you see specifically as your role, what they're asking you to bring to the team?
SP: Defense. Being able to get out there and chase the little point guards around. And just be a competitor. I'm just going to compete. Offensively and defensively. Take what the defense gives me on offense and play hard on defense.

AK: You've already become this instant sensation. People yelling "SSSMMUUUUSSHHH!" when you make a play. Were you expecting any of that?
SP: Oh, no. I was definitely not expecting that. It's wonderful that I'm getting it. It feel good. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside when I hear the fans yell, "Smush!" The fans appreciate hard work and that's what I'm going to give them.

AK: You could probably run for mayor right now.
SP: (laughs) I don't think I have that big of a fan base.

AK: During the Suns game (on 11.3), Jack Nicholson helped you up a bit when you fell out of bounds. What was that like for you?
SP: Oh, man! Like I said, I'm a part of history right now. That's gonna go down in the record books as one of the greatest things that ever happened to me. There's a big picture in the newspaper, and I'm gonna frame it and be able to show my children, "Hey, look. Jack Nicholson helped me up off the court." He kind of patted me on the butt and said, "good job. Good Hustle."

AK: You know Jack Nicholson definitely knows who Smush Parker is.
SP: Oh, yeah. And I definitely know who he is. (Laughs)

AK: Can you talk a little bit about your off the court interests? Hobbies, etc.
SP:  Hobbies, I like to bowl. Excuse me. Let me rephrase that. I love to bowl. I actually went bowling last night. I have no idea where, some place in the Marina. I'm still learning the town.

AK: How'd you do?
SP: I just went out there to throw the ball at some pins. I wasn't really competing. That was my first time going bowling here.

AK: Anyone on the team go with you?
SP: No. I have to find some teammates to go with.

AK: It'd be pretty cool, when you get a strike, if people would yell, "Smmmmuuuussshhh!"
SP: (laughs) Definitely.

FYI - His nickname was orginally given to his dad by his mom, and then passed along to their son, William Henry Parker.


Comments () | Archives (25)

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Awesome interview. Lets get San Antonio SMUUSSSHHHED!!!!!

It's interesting to watch L.A. get to know Smush Parker. I've done color commentary on NBDL radio broadcasts for the past three seasons and had a lot of fun watching Smush last year whenever he came into Roanoke, Virginia, to play the Dazzle. He first showed up last January after being released by the Phoenix Suns. I did a radio interview with him that night. I asked him what he learned in Phoenix. He launched into an animated discussion of Steve Nash's brilliance. Smush said he really learned a lot playing against Nash in the Suns' practices. He marveled at how Nash could control a game with his floor play, with his ability to push the ball and with his passing. Smush joined a terrible Florida team in the NBDL, one that had something like 3 wins and 15 losses. He immediately made Florida competitive, and soon everyone was pointing out that Florida had the best guard in the league. (Smush was on the verge of setting the NBDL single-game assist record that first night in the league, until he got into an argument with the officials and got tossed.) It's fun to watch him catch on with the Lakers, although I agree with Phil Jackson that the next big step of his test will be later in the season, after all the teams have had the opportunity to play against him. They'll have time to figure him out perhaps. But Smush is a guard with size and skills. He's a fast learner, as shown by what he picked up in his brief tenure with Nash. I predict he'll show the ability to adjust to any adjustments from other teams. One other thing, he's a nice kid and a good guy. Here's to his having a long, happy life as a Laker.

Roland Lazenby
Author of the forthcoming book, The Show, an oral history of the Lakers.

Awesome interview Andrew, thanks for posting this. How can anyone not love the Smush! I have to say I was little offended by the "Throwing Down..." thread, but it looks like you're back on track - I'd rather not see articles about players beating on each other, especially after last years riot in Detroit, but it takes all kinds I guess. Here's hoping Smush can keep up his good play and make a name for himself in the league, not just here in LA.

Any chance of getting a picture of the "Smush-calade" put up here once he gets it back from the shop? Maybe a 'before' and 'after' shot with a picture of the Nissan or whatever it is he's driving now?

Nothing like giving a facial every night! I don't think Andre Miller will forget getting SMUUUUUUSHED at home vs. The New Lake Show. Just go buy the poster.

After voicing complaints on the "Trowing Down..." topic,let me voice my appreciation on this interview.

This is really what we appreciate in this blog, not the beating...

Good Job!!!

Hey Kevin,

I don't know if I can get my hands on a pic of Smush's ride, but I'll put some feelers out.

Also, just wanted to clarify to you (and others), the "Throwdown" piece was just meant to be facetious, tongue in cheek fun, and not something I'd actually want to see. For obvious reasons, I was as put off by the Indy-Detroit fracas as everyone. I'm not saying that I won't occasionally post future entries not to everyone's taste (and in fairness, many folks seemed amused by this one). But I want readers to understand what I'm about, both as a person and an NBA writer (of sorts).

Thanks again for the great comments and your readership. We really appreciate it.


There is a great Jazz Bassist and general Jazz activist from new york named William Parker. Maybe I'll yell "SMUSH!" next time he's in town.

I'm ready to take on Smush, you two know what I mean. The Hammer won't hurt him.

Smush Parker is this generation's Michael Cooper. Remember Coop's spirited defense? His 3 point range? The Coop-a-Hoop? Hopefully we're in for some Smushified versions!

Here's what I wrote on Nov. 7 in "From Phil's Mouth" - And I say it again: Where's all the "Smush" jokes, from the ESPN 'experts' now? According to 'ric buscher' Smush was a joke. Who's the clown now?

Yo AK, you should get Jack Nicholson to write a guess blog from time to time on here. That would be entertaining and I'm sure he'd be up for it.

That's cool the kid likes bowling. Went by himself, had no problem with it. I'm really diggin his personality. Thanks


I agree with you about Parker, the other night against Denver, the guy really impressed me. He plays under control. I hope he can keep it up, it would be a great story if he can.

Smush was an outstanding basketball player at the age of 11 and is an amazing player today. He was fierce and focused on the court as a kid and knew how to keep his eye on the ball like a falcon eyeing its prey.
And if you think that basketball is the end to his talents, you should hear him sing!
Congratulations Will, I am very happy for you and proud of your determination to make your dream come true. Have you met Michael Jordan yet? One day we will all buy Nike shoes with a Smush in place of the Swoosh :-)

Smush hasn't done anything yet people. He had two good games. Let's see how the season plays out.

He needs to play well 2 out of 3 games.

Smush is someone to root for. Once he figures out the Triangle, he'll be hot!

He's another example of that Mitch K is a good GM.

Thanks for the comments, Roland.

Great interview. Smush and I grew up in the same building and I have been following his career since he was at Fordham under Bob Hill. The ironic thing is that I have been a Lakers fan my entire life even though I grew up in New York. I am glad to see that people are finally recognizing the talent that Smush always had and I am especially glad those talents are working for the LA Lakers.
P.S. I am pushing to see Smush in the dunk contest. What do you think?

Smush is a pleasant surprise for the Laker fans.

His half court defense needs improvement though. He often times just stands there, leaving his guy wide open to penetrate or shoot. Oh, and Smush falls under the screen all the time.

Smush is a good player who can only get better after this season with the lakers.I first saw him play down on west 4th street in NYC,right away you could tell he had game and he stood out.At Fordham the glimpses were there also a steal,a dunk or a long three. The lakers should certainly sign him long term in any case he definitely will not have to play on a summer league team when the season concludes.

smush is cute and a caring guy

to smush...........wake up!!!!!!! this is playoff time so, show us what u have. if u cant help the team, better go home and make some toast.

April 3, 2007. Another game that Smush lost for the Lakers again. It's about the 15th to 20th game that the non-fundamental, non-hustle, non-defense, no-brain, total momentum breaker Smush lost for the Lakers. I love the Lake Show and they would be a super good team if they told Smush not to come to games any more. He's the worst player for the Lakers, probably in the NBA, but the Laker opponents love him. They know he doesn't know how to play D, can't shoot, throws the ball away all the time, and whenever the Lakers have momentum, Smush does something stupid.

Smush Hater in Hawaii

It's so interesting to read the comments as the years have progressed. There was an earlier comment asking Ric Busher "Who's the clown now?" Well, I think it's pretty obvious who was ultimately right. Smush Parker is obviously a major disappointment to the Lakers with his inconsistent play and poor attitude. He's probably the worst starting point guard in the NBA--I challenge you to name a worse one. Anyway, it's time for the Lakers to at least get someone who doesn't hurt the team night in and night out and can actually hit an outside shot. Please go back to the NBDL Smush and work on your game...



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