Profile | Robert Parish, A Journey Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

At his age, he could play as a Sunday morning veteran. But he decided otherwise. The last vestige of the Celtics’ glorious era, member of the NBA’s most famous trio with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, Robert Parish It was decided to head to Charlotte. We are in 1994.

At the age of 41, he was the oldest player in the NBA. In North Carolina, Bob is entering his 19th season. The secret to longevity? Several strict rules.

We start with a ban on red meat. “A lot of toxins.” Few known defects. And a very clear tendency to solitude. “I’ve never been social, Shreveport (Louisiana) admits citizen. Life in society tends to be tiring. » Another rule: never look back. “It’s useless. What happened has happened.”

Loyalty to Celtics

Born on August 30, 1953, the forty-year-old parishioner is still able to master the interlocutors that could be his children. Obviously, his long career consists of memorable moments (three NBA titles in 1981, 84 and 86) but also painful episodes. Like the tragic disappearance of Reggie Lewis, the victim of a heart attack while training in July 1993, at the age of 27.

“It was awful. Now, every time I walk onto the pitch, I think of Reggie. Even with him, the season has been tough. So without him…”

The eighth pick for the 1976 draft could have left the Celtics at the time for a title-playing team. Show a certain loyalty to the club that gave him everything. “The Celtics have always been good and fair to me. I didn’t want to leave them in my shit.”

In the summer of 1994, the parish became a Hornet. “The Chief,” as Cedric Maxwell nicknames him in reference to Silent Chief Bromden, the Indian giant of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” never laughed. His face is still closed. He looks sober in all circumstances. The parishioner rarely speaks, but he always does so wisely. Some in Shreveport remember a shy little boy, embarrassed by his centimeters. Little Parish can’t find pants that fit him. Her mother does extra odd jobs so she can make clothes for her. However, even with this size, he had to play basketball.

My biggest problem was the clumsiness. I was growing so fast that I didn’t have time to get used to my height. I bumped into everything. If I raise my arm, I touch a lamp. I knocked on a lot of things, and I tripped on the carpet. It was a disaster…”

Union Junior High School coach Coleman Kidd acknowledged the benefits of basketball in Parrish’s case. “He pulled into himself. Basketball helped him unravel his height knot. Although he never smiled, he was very focused and hard working.”

Despite its 2.16-meter length, the future axis of the Celtics is nowhere near as big as the major universities. Possesses a Doberman that might scare recruits… “Very good dog”Slips with a special sense of humor.

Forged by Warriors

The parishioner stays at home. He goes to Centennial College (Louisiana). This allows her to take care of her two younger sisters because her mother works a lot. The NCAA, surprised to see such hope in such a small college, is investigating. It was discovered that the entrance exams had been rigged. The organization suggests that the parish choose another university. He refuses. Centenary Banned from official competition for six years. Four years later, in 1976, Robert was drafted by the Golden State Warriors (8th place, therefore). The expression on his face and demeanor give the impression that he doesn’t care. It becomes a favorite target of the media and the general public.

“I was responsible for mistakes that weren’t mine. I became more introverted. It got worse. My transfer to Boston saved me.”

In 1980, the Warriors traded Parrish and the first-round pick (who would be Kevin McHale) for Joe Barry Carroll and Ricky Brown. Everyone knows what happens next: Bird, McHale and Parish won three NBA titles. This exchange remains the worst in the League’s history. KC Jones, who coached the Celtics for two of those titles, says Parish has been the element most sticking to his philosophy.

“He’s the team player par excellence. He’s been the backbone of Boston. He sacrificed his individual performance for the club. Without him, we wouldn’t be champions.”

A few years later, the person who wore a double zero in the Celtics is still around. During his final season in Massachusetts, he scored 11.7 points (49.1%), 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 for over 27 minutes. There’s no reason to stop in Charlotte, he thinks, because Robert pulls other weapons to stay: kung fu – “for flexibility and reflexes” – swimming, and tennis (different from squash in that you can hit the ball against the wall as low as you like, there are no fictional network) and jogging – “to keep fit”. Without alcohol. “It took me 15 years to realize that alcohol dehydrates the body.”

No alcohol but ginseng every day, jazz meditation, “to promote relaxation.” The image would have been poetic had it not been for the discovery of marijuana during the winter of 1992-1993 in a letter addressed to him… Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ended his career at the age of 42. Robert Parish will hit him softly. “As long as I can do my job on the field, I continue, Then he explains. Age means nothing to me. When I’m 50, then yes, it will count. This means that I will live half a century…”

Parrish was not aware at the time that he had only three years left in the League. Under Alonzo Mourning, he dropped to an average of 4.8 points (4 starts, 16 minutes of playing time). Zoe’s departure to Miami in 1995 does not change anything. He holds 34 times but his playing time is dropping again and so is his production. In 1996, “The Chief” joined Chicago. His contribution is entirely anecdotal but he won a fourth champ ring in his personal capacity.

Four episodes and a spot in the Hall of Fame

At 43, the parishioner bowed. He is the third oldest player to play a game in the NBA after Nat Hickey (46 years, exactly 45 years and 363 days in 1948…) and Kevin Willis (44) who was still dragging his body on the American courts there. Few seasons. His record of 1,611 games – spread over 21 seasons – is undefeated.

In 1996, the trio of Bird McHale Parish, considered the best frontcourt ever, joined the famous club of the 50 greatest players in history. Boston retired his 00 jersey in January 1998 in the first half of a Celtics Pacers game, allowing then-Indiana coach Larry Bird to take part in the ceremony. Five years later, “The Chief” became Hall of Famer.

Parrish tried his hand at coaching in 2001 with a minor league team (Maryland Mustangs at USBL). Twenty-five years after the end of his career, he leaves a double image. Being sensitive and unattractive. This nine-time All-Star player (over 23,000, over 14,000 rebounds and over 2,300 blocks in his career), a pillar of a legendary team and an atypical hub: slim, versatile, quick on the counterattack, and skillful in the middle. -Domain.

Like Abdul-Jabbar with the sky hook, Parrish invented his own highly curved jump shot. Bill Walton, who was his teammate from 1985 to 87, once spoke of the “best man shooter ever” based on the subject’s title (53.7% in career shots and 72.1% in throws).

Leave a Comment