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Kobe Bryant led former Sun Channing Frye to smoke his 1st cigarette

Channing Frye of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers defend in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals on May 25, 2010 in Phoenix. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

One of the most painful moments for the Phoenix Suns led to one of the best nights out for former Sun and soon-to-be-NBA-retiree Channing Frye. It also led to an unhealthy first — and only — for the wet-jumpered big man.

The scene: After the Suns had fallen to the Lakers in six games in the 2010 Western Conference Finals, Frye was looking to take his mind off the loss.

Frye told The Athletic’s Joe Vardon that the evening turned into one of the most fun nights in his career.

“All my friends were there and just a great experience,” Frye said in a wide-ranging Q&A about his career. “First time I ever smoked a cigarette. Kobe crushed us so bad that I actually smoked a cigarette with the people outside.

“Never did it again but I felt it was necessary. We were in Phoenix. Some dirty dive bar and I was outside and just venting how Kobe is absolutely amazing. He single-handedly beat us.”

Suns fans faint of heart need not read more, but Frye was right.

Bryant averaged 33.7 points and 8.3 assists on 52 percent shooting in the series, dropping 37 in the Game 6 victory to keep Phoenix out of the NBA Finals.

That was a long time ago.

Phoenix hasn’t made a postseason since. Frye, meanwhile, played three more years with the Suns after that night, skipping the 2012-13 season due to a heart issue. He left as a free agent in 2014 and has since played for three teams, winning the 2016 NBA title with his current squad, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Earlier this season, the 14-year NBA veteran announced he would retire at the end of the year.

The farewell tour for the Phoenix St. Mary’s High School and Arizona Wildcats product came through his hometown Monday.

The Suns honored him with a farewell video full of highlights from his time in Arizona.

Then, Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew tipped his cap to the big man by inserting Frye into the lineup during the second half.

Frye hadn’t played since March 18, but in three minutes he got up two shots, banking in a three-pointer over Dragan Bender for a final NBA bucket in the same town he grew up in — and the same place he got his first taste of tobacco.


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