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Ex-Fordham star Parker looks to revive NBA career

The Brooklyn Paper
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Smush Parker has enjoyed his time overseas, but that doesn’t mean he is completely content.

The former Fordham University standout spent the last two seasons playing with the Guandong Southern Tigers Hongyuan of the Chinese Basketball Association where he won two championships. Parker talked about dealing with the language barrier playing in China, where very few people on the mainland speak English.

“I’m used to being away from home, but it was an adjustment because I wasn’t able to talk to anybody,” he said. “At the same time I had a job to do.”

Parker would be OK with playing overseas again, but really wants another crack at the NBA. He spent five seasons in the league playing for six different teams, his last stint was with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007-08.

“It’s about playing at the top level of basketball that there is,” Parker said after scoring 20 points for the X-Men in a semifinal loss Tuesday at Nike Pro City. “I feel like I can play at that level and I’ve proven myself. It’s just about trying to get back.”

Getting there in the first place wasn’t easy.

The Brooklyn native went undrafted in 2002, signed and played in 66 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers and was not retained. Parker bounced around Greece, the CBA and the NBA Development League and made quick stops with the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns.

In 2005 he was signed by the Los Angeles Lakers and finally had some NBA staying power and playing time. The 6-foot-4 guard played in all 82 of the team’s games and averaged just over 11 points per game for two seasons with Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson.

Parker, whose high school career was spent mostly at Newtown in Queens, spent the next year playing a combined 28 games for the Heat and Clippers. Miami waived him following an altercation with a parking attendant. The Clippers picked him up for the remainder of the season, but renounced his rights that July. He was on the Toronto’s Raptors’ Summer League roster in 2009. This time around his route back may be different.

“I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may,” the 29-year-old Parker said. “I’m going to end up at somebody’s veteran camp and try to make the team.”

At Pro City, a streetball league he plays in religiously each summer, Parker looked like a polished pro. He slipped by defenders to the basket, finished 3-point plays and connected from behind the arc. He collected steals and set up teammates. The league is a way for him to stay in shape and compete against top competition.

“He is phenomenal,” former Fairfield star Darren Phillip said. “That’s an NBA basketball player. Sometimes I am in awe of some of the things he does. ... I love watching him play.”

Parker hoped people will get a chance to see him play and revive his career in the NBA again this season, but wouldn’t going into details about any of his options.

“If I can’t get back,” he said, “I am content with going overseas.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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