Jabari Parker’s tearful Barcelona interview shows disappointment of not sticking in NBA

Jabari Parker seemed destined for a long and successful NBA career when he became the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft. We detailed why Parker was such a special prospect coming out of Chicago’s Simeon Academy high school back in 2013, and he mostly lived up to the hype during his productive one-and-done season at Duke.

The Bucks took him with the second pick in the draft, one spot ahead of Joel Embiid and one spot behind Andrew Wiggins, where he was expected to pair with the player the Bucks drafted one year earlier, Giannis Antetokounmpo, for an electric partnership.

Only five years later, Parker’s NBA career was effectively over. He had endured two torn ACLs, and never looked like the same player after the injury. The league he entered changed dramatically after the rise of Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors, with Parker’s isolation scoring growing out of style in favor of more ball movement and three-point heavy attacks. Parker signed a one-year, $20 million deal with his hometown Bulls in 2018, but he didn’t even make it through the preseason before losing his starting spot. He was traded later that year. After bouncing around for a cup of coffee with Atlanta, Sacramento, and Boston the next few seasons, he was fully out of the league.

Parker resurfaced this year, though not in the NBA. He signed with Barcelona and competed in the Spanish league, where he teamed with former NBA players Jan Vesely, Willy Hernangomez, and Tomas Satoransky. Parker had terrific year that ended this weekend to rival Real Madrid in the playoffs.

After the season-ending lost, Parker was asked to reflect on his first year playing outside of the United States. He got too emotional to even answer the question. Watch the video here:

Parker is 29 years old. This should be the prime of his NBA career, when he’s competing for All-Star spots, All-NBA teams, and being a key piece in a push for a championship. Instead, the NBA decided they didn’t want him anymore after the injuries, and he’s playing in a lower-level league than he ever imagined.

It’s hard to watch. Parker has seen his top-5 draft peers like Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon win championships in the NBA. He’s seen his draft mate Joel Embiid sign a four-year, $213 million contract recently. Meanwhile, Parker signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Barcelona before the season.

Without the injuries, it’s possible Parker would have been a major player on the Bucks’ 2021 championship team. It’s possible he’d be playing on a nine-figure contract. That just isn’t the way his career worked out, unfortunately, but there’s no shame is playing in a very good Spanish league. For the series, Parker averaged 18.2 points and four rebounds per game on 58.3 percent shooting from the floor, 45.5 percent shooting from three, and 84.6 percent shooting from the foul line. He also did this:

Parker still has some good years in basketball ahead of him. Who knows, maybe he can even work his way back into the NBA. Either way, starring for a club like Barcelona isn’t a bad outcome, even if it isn’t exactly how Parker envisioned his career would go.

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