What do you know about the great and equally underrated Robert Parish?
You probably know “The Chief” as 1/3 of the original BIG 3 from the 80s Celtics. You know he is a Hall of Famer and was a part of four NBA championships (you might not remember the last one with Jordan in 97). But the nine-time All-Star, who played for 21 (YES 21!) seasons is underrated because you never hear his name mentioned among the great centers. Now, I wouldn’t put him in the elite five (Wilt, Kareem, Russell, Hakeem & Shaq) or even elite 10 with centers like Ewing, The Admiral, and Moses Malone, but you will probably hear names like Alonzo and Deke before you hear the Chief in most great centers conversations; I have Parish ahead of those Hall of Famers and definitely ahead of almost any current center in the game.
If Parish wasn’t playing alongside double-double machines and unstoppable scorers like McHale and Bird, I believe Parish, who put up 19 & 10 for four straight seasons, could have been a 30 & 15 player for much of the 80s. He probably could have been a 15 & 8 player in his late 30s and early 40s too. Just think about this, in the final month of his 20th season — with the Charlotte Hornets — Parish started playing 30+ minutes a game and had a few these stat lines at the young age of 42!
- Vs Nuggets: 15 pts 17 rebs 4 blks
- Vs Lakers: 4 pts, 14 rebs, 7 blks
- Vs Kings: 14 pts 13 rebs 3 blks
- Vs Lakers: 13 pts 10 rebs 2 blks
Now watch him play some great defense against a young Orlando Magic Shaq during Shaq’s most athletic days.
Parish spent the next and final season of his career in Chicago, where he won a championship and let Michael Jordan know you don’t mess with a 43-year-old 7’0″ Celtic great who practices martial arts.
In one of his first practices with the Bulls, Parish botched one of the plays and was amused to find Jordan jawing at him just inches from his face.
“I told him, ‘I’m not as enamored with you as these other guys. I’ve got some rings too,’ ” Parish recalled. “At that point he told me, ‘I’m going to kick your ass.’ I took one step closer and said, ‘No, you really aren’t.’ After that he didn’t bother me.”