NEW YORK (BVM) – When NBA players retire but still want to be involved in the game of basketball, they usually follow similar paths. They’ll become coaches, analysts or join the front offices of teams. Nowadays, they might even start a podcast or their own show to cover basketball. However, there have only been three NBA players who decided to become NBA referees after retiring, and former NBA point guard Smush Parker is trying to become the fourth.
There’s only been 3 other Former NBA Athletes to make the journey back into the NBA as an Official
— Smush Parker (@SmushParker21) January 11, 2023
The five–year NBA veteran announced via Instagram that he was trying to become an NBA referee and even listed the other NBA players to accomplish the feat. The first to do it was Bernie Fryer, who began officiating NBA games in 1978 and retired in 2007. Leon Wood was the second to do it and is in his 27th season as an NBA official. The final former player to do it was Haywoode Workman, who refereed during the mid-2000s and has also spent time working for the NBA front office.
Parker spent five years in the NBA but played basketball professionally for 16 years. He went undrafted in 2002 after playing collegiately at College of Southern Idaho and Fordham. He spent the 2002-03 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. From there, Parker played for the Pistons, Suns, Heat, Lakers and Clippers until 2008.
He was best known for his time with the Lakers. Parker was the Lakers’ point guard for two seasons from 2005-07. He averaged around 11 points per game during that time and played in every single game for the Lakers over those two seasons.
Following his time in the NBA, Parker continued to play basketball professionally both overseas and in the United States. His last stint as a professional was with the Albany Patroons of the North America Premier Basketball league. Parker retired in 2018.
Parker’s announcement means the beginning of a long journey to the NBA as a referee. He is currently officiating for the last league he played in which is now called The Basketball League. It’s a start and this will take time, but Parker’s journey can remind players that there are other ways to stay involved in the game of basketball other than the more commonly used options.