Robert Parish, a retired NBA center who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, shares his thoughts on Michael Jordan’s legacy and Boston Celtics locker room culture.
Robert Parish is a former NBA player and he has been in the league for over 20 years. His career started with the Boston Celtics and then he went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, and San Antonio Spurs. He was part of the Celtics’ championship team that beat Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 1988 NBA Finals.
Robert Parish, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, spent 14 of his 21 NBA seasons with the Boston Celtics. He was a member of the Chicago Bulls for one season. With the Celtics, he won three championships, and in his lone year in Chicago, he won another.
Playing alongside Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for one season was instructive. Parish discussed the contrast between the locker room atmospheres with Bird and Jordan with former Celtics colleague Cedric Maxwell. In Chicago, it didn’t seem to be very warm.
With the Boston Celtics, Robert Parish won three championships, and he added another with the Chicago Bulls.
On Nov. 23, 1994, during a game against the Boston Celtics at the Boston Garden, Charlotte Hornets center Robert Parish gestures to the fans. | Getty Images/Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe
Parish’s career took a turn when he was traded to the Celtics by the Golden State Warriors before the 1980-81 season. The Warriors spent the first four years of his NBA career with the 7-foot-1 center out of Centenary College. The Warriors traded him and the third overall selection to the Celtics before the 1980 NBA Draft in exchange for the top pick and another first-rounder. With the third overall choice, Boston picked Kevin McHale, bolstering their frontcourt for the future.
Parish and McHale joined up with Larry Bird, a second-year standout who had won Rookie of the Year the previous season. In the 1980s, the trio was instrumental in bringing Boston its first of three championships. They would go on to be regarded as one of the finest frontcourts in NBA history.
Parish was a key part of the Celtics’ three NBA titles in 1981, 1984, and 1986. He was a nine-time All-Star, including seven consecutive seasons from 1981 to 1987. Parish averaged 16.5 points and 10.0 rebounds during his stint with the Celtics.
He spent two seasons with the Charlotte Hornets after leaving Boston before concluding his career with the Bulls. He appeared in 43 regular-season games and two playoff games with the Bulls, winning his fourth championship ring.
The Celtics and the Bulls have different locker rooms, according to Robert Parish.
Parish may not be fair in comparing the locker room atmospheres of the Celtics with the Bulls. He only stayed in Chicago for one season, but he didn’t have much to say about his time with Jordan.
During one of Parish’s first sessions with the Bulls, he and Jordan had a memorable encounter. Jordan, who is renowned for being harsh with his teammates, got in the face of the center. Jordan was shoved aside by Parish.
Parish told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan in 2012, “I told him, ‘I’m not as smitten with you as these other men.” “I, too, have several rings.” ‘I’m going to kick your ass,’ he said at that moment. ‘No, you really aren’t,’ I murmured as I moved closer. He didn’t disturb me after that.”
On a 2020 edition of The Cedric Maxwell Podcast, Parish reflected on his brief tenure with the Bulls.
Parish told Maxwell, “Michael absolutely could wear on you because he had such a strong personality, extremely outspoken.” “It’s almost at the point of conflict.” He’d barge into your personal space and start shouting trash.
“That’s one thing about the Celtics that I’ve always appreciated. We held one other in high regard. Every day, we spoke a lot of nonsense about one other, but there was always respect. I can’t think of a single teammate that didn’t appreciate his or her teammates. We had always held one other in high regard.
“I believe Michael stepped over the line there. He was a perfectionist. If you’re going to expect perfection, which is impossible to achieve by the way, you have to appreciate them.”
Bird would not be tolerated by the Celtics if he behaved like Jordan, according to Parish.
Jordan has a reputation for being a stickler for details. He was not only harsh with himself, but also with his colleagues. Parish said that Bulls coach Phil Jackson was never a hindrance.
Parish remarked, “Phil, like most coaches, left the locker room alone.” “He let the players figure out who was in charge and how the locker room would be run.” Michael just grabbed it and ran with it. All those men were bullied by him. “You know what troubled me about that, Cedric? The teammates didn’t have the courage to say nothing about it.”
Bird might be harsh with his teammates, but he was always courteous. Parish stated he and the Celtics would not have stood for it if he wasn’t.
“We would never have taken it from Larry,” Parish claimed. “Max, there’s no way.” You know it’s true, don’t you? We’d never condone Larry’s actions, especially since he was our leader.”
Robert Parish Earned Cedric Maxwell’s Respect by Admitting Flaws on and Off the Court
Larry Bird is a basketball coach who was the head coach of the Boston Celtics from 1986 to 1997 and again from 2000 until his retirement in 2007. He coached the team to three NBA championships, nine Atlantic Division titles, and ten consecutive trips to the playoffs. Reference: larry bird coach.
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