№15: Robert Parish Player Spotlight | Pop Quiz: Can name all 74 NBA Champions and the year that they won?
April 19, 2021
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The focus of this week’s player spotlight is on the former Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, and Chicago Bulls center Robert Parish. Check out my career retrospective of the man known as “The Chief” in the section below.
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Welcome to Player Spotlight! Inspired by the writings of the late Zander Hollander (Sportswriter, archivist, and author of the ever informative The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball), I decided to put my 30 years of basketball knowledge to some use and come up with a short, free flowing, and non-linear/viewpoint narrative on the featured player.
Born Robert Lee Parish (August 30, 1953). During his enrollment at Centenary College, Robert Parish—through no fault of his own—became embroiled in a standardized testing issue between the school and the NCAA. As both sides were at an impasse and the NCAA decided to put Centenary on probation for the next six years and in the process not recognize any of the team’s results or statistics during that period. This included the 108 games that Parish played for the Gentlemen wherein he averaged 21.6 points and 16.9 rebounds (In 2018, a formal appeal by Centenary College was granted and the NCAA announced that Parish's collegiate achievements would finally be listed in the NCAA Record Book).
While in college in 1975, the NCAA issue indirectly created more obstacles towards any possible participation with Team USA at the Pan American Games. However, Centenary shouldered the expenses of Parish in order for him to try out for team. Robert not only made the squad but was unanimously voted as it’s captain. Team USA would go on to win the gold medal at the 1975 Pan American Games.
Robert Parish was drafted 8th overall by the Golden State Warriors in the 1976 NBA Draft. In his first four seasons with the Warriors, several egos on the team lead to largely dismal campaigns. Parish was a believer in a team concept while his Warrior teammates focused more on their individual agendas. He had been reported saying that if it were not for the 1980 trade that brought him to the Boston Celtics, Robert Parish may have retired early from the playing in the NBA.
That June 8, 1980 deal involved three draft picks and Parish. The Boston Celtics traded away the #1 (7’0’’ Joe Barry Carroll) and #13 (6’10’’ Rickey Brown) picks in return for the #3 (Kevin McHale) selection and Robert Parish. The deal—involving two future Hall of Farmers and Top 50 NBA Players in McHale and Parish—has been lauded as arguably the most lopsided deal in NBA history.
Caption: With career averages of 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks on 53.7% shooting over the course of 1611 games. Robert is a shoo-in for any real life or fantasy basketball team.
Standing 7’1’’ and known for his stoic nature, former Boston Celtics teammate Cedric Maxwell bestowed Parish with the moniker “The Chief”—after Chief Bromden, an imposing and quite Native American character from the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
No longer burdened to lead a team, Parish blossomed alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. The trio would eventually dominate most of the 80’s and be heralded by many as the greatest front court in NBA history. In his fourteen years playing for the Celtics, Robert Parish averaged 16.5 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks in 1106 games.
Sports writer Peter May wrote, “Parish developed a reputation as a consummate team player who never complained about minutes or shots and who willingly sacrificed his game to become a defensive stalwart.”
In 1994, Parish signed with the Charlotte Hornets to serve primarily as backup to all-star center Alonzo Mourning. Two years later, Robert Parish signed with the Chicago Bulls wherein he played sparingly but won his fourth NBA championship.
At the conclusion of his 21st NBA season, Robert Parish retired. As of this writing, he is all-time leader in games played (1,611) and the third oldest player to appear in an NBA game (43 years and 254 days on May 11, 1997) after Nat Hickey and Kevin Willis. He is also tied for 2nd (along with Kevin Willis, Kevin, Garnett, and Dirk Nowitzki) for most seasons in the NBA (Vincent Lamar Carter, Jr. sits on top of this list with 22 years).
Robert Parish was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003 and is recognized as one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players (1996).
By the time I got a chance to see any games of The Chief on television, he was already in the tail end of his career with the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls, respectively. Looking back at those Chicago Bulls games, I distinctly remember that whenever Parish saw the floor and was in the process sizing up his defender and attempting his patented turnaround high-arching jump shot, the collective voices of the home crowd would go “Chieeefff!
Sometime during his time in Charlotte, I recall the television camera zooming in on The Chief seated at the Hornets bench. Shortly after, the television commentators announced that Parish had his first grandchild—making him the first grandfather in the NBA.
Here are some videos featuring “The Chief” Robert Parish:
Caption: In this segment of Game Time, The Chief credits his longevity to the practice of martial arts.
Caption: In this 1994 game against the Chicago Bulls, Robert Parish regains his shooting touch when the game was on the line.
Before I finish this week’s player spotlight, here is the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech of Robert Parish in Springfield, Massachusetts on September 5, 2003.
Can name all 74 NBA Champions and the year that they won?
93%! I threw in the towel with 1:12 left on the clock (You will be given 12 minutes). I pretty much knew the teams that won between 1986 to 2020 by heart. It was educated guesses after that. Especially with the Philadelphia Warriors, Rochester Royals, and St. Louis Hawks.
Unlike past quizzes that I have taken, this one was a bit more challenging as it doesn’t automatically fill out possible answers. For instance, if you type “Bulls” in 1991, the answer will only be good for that year and not 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 1998.
Click here to take your own Sporcle quiz and don’t forget to let me know in comment section how you did.
See you in seven! Have a good week ahead! ■
Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to NBA.com/Philippines. His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.
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