Robert Parish
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Robert Parish
Key Topics:
  • Basketball
  • Teamwork
  • Motivation
  • Bio Info:
    Retired basketball center, Robert Parish, was born August 30, 1953 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Parrish was known for his strong defense and jump shooting, and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003. In 1997, Parish was also named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. His nickname was "The Chief", after the mute Native American in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. According to Parish, former Celtics forward Cedric Maxwell gave Parish this nickname because of his stoic nature.

    Robert Parish played in more games than any other player in NBA history. A 7-1 center who combined strength, agility and remarkable endurance, Parish won three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s and teamed with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale to form one of the greatest front lines in NBA history. He capped his career by winning yet another championship ring as a member of the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls. 

    Robert Parish earned three championship rings with the Celtics during five trips to the NBA Finals in the 1980s.Parish, whose signature shot was a high trajectory jumper that seemed to kiss the banners at Boston Garden before finding its way to the basket, announced his retirement at age 43 following the 1996-97 season, his 21st in the NBA, and after playing in 1,611 games. Upon his retirement, Parish ranked 13th in the NBA in scoring with 23,334 points, sixth in rebounds with 14,715, sixth in blocked shots with 2,361 and eighth in field goals made with 9,614.

    "He's probably the best medium-range shooting big man in the history of the game," said Hall of Famer Bill Walton, who was Parish's backup in the Celtics' 1986 championship season. 

    Parish, who was nicknamed "Chief" by Celtics teammate Cedric Maxwell after a character from the film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," played college ball at Centenary in his hometown of Shreveport, La. He was chosen in the first round of the 1976 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors after posting four-year college averages of 21.6 points and 16.9 rebounds per game. 

    The Warriors traded Parish to Boston in 1980, and he enjoyed a remarkable 14-year run with the Celtics. In his tenure with the club, the Celtics went to the playoffs 13 times, won nine Atlantic Division titles, reached the NBA Finals five times and came away with three NBA titles. 

    Parish played in the NBA All-Star Game nine times, finished among the top 10 in the league in field goal percentage for six consecutive seasons, topped 10 rebounds per game in eight seasons and averaged better than 15 points in nine campaigns. In 1981-82 he recorded a career-high average of 19.9 ppg and he averaged a career-best 12.5 rpg in 1988-89. 

    In 1994, he signed as a free agent with the Charlotte Hornets, lending veteran experience to a young team on the rise. He played two seasons with the Hornets, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the league's all-time leader in games played late in the 1995-96 season. Before the 1996 season he signed with Chicago as a free agent and got another championship ring when the Bulls won 69 games and the NBA crown. 

    His glory days, however, were with the Celtics, when he formed the "Big Three" with Bird and McHale. 

    "I will always be a Celtic at heart," Parish said. "That's where my career took off. 

    "It's hard for me to even believe how good we were," he reflected. "Some nights I'd be out there just kicking some guy's butt, really feeling it, and then I'd look over and see what Kevin was doing, and what Larry was doing, and I'd say, 'Man, this is something. This is special.'" 

    The Celtics' days as a true title contender were over, but Parish would have several more productive seasons in Boston. He averaged 15.7 ppg and 10.1 rpg and ranked third in the NBA with a .580 shooting percentage in 1989-90, and returned to the NBA All-Star Game after a two-year absence. He was an All-Star again in 1990-91, averaging 14.9 points and 10.6 rebounds and ranking second in the league in field goal percentage at .598. He passed 20,000 career points in 1991-92, when he averaged 14.1 ppg and 8.9 rpg. 

    With the retirement of Larry Bird in 1992 and Kevin McHale in 1993, Parish was the lone remaining member of Boston's fabled "Big Three." Often mentioned as an afterthought in debates about the game's great frontcourt players, Parish just kept rolling along. At the age of 40, he averaged 11.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg, and in an late-season game against the Chicago Bulls, he logged 51 minutes in a 104-94 overtime Celtics win over the defending champions. 

    An era in Celtics history officially came to a close when Parish left Boston after the 1993-94 season to sign as a free agent with the Charlotte Hornets. During his two seasons as a reserve center with Charlotte, he became the NBA's all-time leader in games played, passing Abdul-Jabbar's total of 1,560 on April 6, 1996 at Cleveland. 

    In September 1996, he signed with Chicago as a free agent. Playing in a record 21st NBA season, Parish added a fourth championship ring to the three he won with Boston as he appeared in 43 games for the Bulls, making three starts. 

    He announced his retirement in typically understated fashion, not in a major news conference but during an offseason television interview on Friday, Aug. 25, 1997. 

    "I think it's time," he said. "I know in my heart that it's time to walk away." 

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