The legend of the late great Kobe Bryant continues to grow. Former NBA player Chandler Parsons was a guest on Showtime’s “All The Smoke” with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson and told an apparently somewhat embellished story of Kobe Bryant lighting him up on the floor as a rookie but doing something generous after the game.
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Parsons is a Houston Rockets rookie during the 2011-12 season. This is two seasons removed from Kobe’s back-to-back title runs with the Los Angeles Lakers and the game is in L.A.
Rockets head coach at the time Kevin McHale warns Parsons not to get distracted by the celebrities and the glitz and glamour at Staples Center. He also told Parsons he was guarding Bryant.
‘Lock in. Kobe, he’s going to try to bust your ass. He’s going to be offended you’re guarding him,” Parsons recalls McHale saying.
Of course the wide-eyed rookie Parsons got starstruck seeing Denzel Washington and Rihanna. Naturally Bryant lit him up, scoring 40 in that game, according to Parsons.
In the latter stages of his career Bryant liked to give younger players the business. Likely recognizing his own basketball career was winding down. But he also wanted to let them know he was still “the man” and the type of work you were in for whenever he stepped on the floor.
The NBA is a ruthlessly competitive league and Bryant was one of the game’s most ruthless.
According to Parsons’ retelling, in the fourth quarter Bryant asks a young Parsons if the Rockets were staying in town for the night.
“And I’m like, making sure McHale is not looking at me, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, what up?’… He goes ‘I’ll set you up, I’ll get your number from J Chill if you wanna go out tonight.’ Stop, I know what you’re doing, come on. McHale is there grilling me like stop talking to this motherf-cker.”
The Rockets lose the game (marking this as the Jan. 3, 2012, 108-99 Lakers victory over Houston in which Kobe scored 37 points and Parsons played three minutes) but Parsons gets a text from Bryant saying “you’re all set at Supper Club — Mamba.”
“I’m looking around like who is f-cking with me, no way! … I write him back asking are you coming. He says no but says my guy will hit you up.”
Parsons and his friends and some teammates proceed to have a baller night at The Supper Club in L.A., and as the night winds down a waitress heads toward Parsons with the bill.
This is where panic set in. After a night of expensive wildin’ out and you’re not 100 percent sure if the bill is being covered, you sober up real fast.
“I open it, and it’s like $22,000. At this point, I’m sick. … This chick hands me a pen and says ‘sign for Mr. Bryant’ …”
If Bryant stuck Parsons with the bill that wouldn’t be surprising, right? He could be an a–hole in that way. But he could also be extremely generous and kind toward players.
In many ways that’s why the players in that generation that were coming up in the league right behind Bryant revere him so much. Yes, he was a great player. But he could be generous with his time, advice, and hospitality.