Who is Robert Parish?
Robert Parish is an American former basketball player, best known by his endearing nickname, “The Chief.” The 7-foot-tall player has played as a center and holds the record (a tie with four more players) for playing more games than anyone else in the history of the ‘National Basketball Association’ (NBA). Parish started playing basketball when he was in seventh grade. Later, at the peak of his career, he was valued for his strong defense, agility, and endurance. Parish bagged three ‘NBA’ championships, playing for the ‘Boston Celtics.’ Popular opinion holds that Parish, along with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, made one of the best frontlines in the history of the ‘NBA.’ Parish retired from his glorious career at the age of 43, and in 2003, he made a place for himself in the ‘Basketball Hall of Fame.’
Childhood & Early Life
Robert Parish was born to Robert Sr. and Ada Parish, on August 30, 1953, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He initially attended ‘Union High School.’ However, once it was closed down, he moved to ‘Woodlawn High School’ and later graduated from ‘Centenary College.’
Parish, a seventh grader with an unusual height of 6 feet 6 inches, was noticed by coach Coleman Kid, who encouraged him to play basketball. It was at this juncture that he was introduced to the game. Soon, Parish started wearing a jersey with the numerals “00.” He had acquired the jersey in junior high-school, when they were being handed out randomly.
Parish himself gave credits to coach Kid for his success as a basketball player. At ‘Woodlawn,’ he was under the tutelage of coach Ken Ivy. He represented the school in the ‘Louisiana High School Athletic Association Class AAAA State Championship’ in 1972.
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Between his junior and senior years, Parish played for ‘Team USA’ at the 1975 ‘Pan American Games,’ where the team won a gold medal.
In 1973, Parish was drafted by the ‘Utah Stars’ for the ‘ABA Special Circumstances.’ In 1975, he was drafted by the ‘Spurs’ in the ‘ABA Draft.’
Between 1976 and the 1980s, Parish played for the ‘Golden State Warriors.’ He was drafted for the team in the first round of the 1976 ‘NBA Draft.’ However, the performance of the ‘Warriors’ had started to decline steadily by the time Parish joined, and his stint with the team had little to contribute to his glory as a legend. Parish played for four seasons and scored an average of 13.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks.
In the 1980 ‘NBA Draft,’ the ‘Boston Celtics’ drafted Parish. Parish welcomed the trade wholeheartedly because with the new team, he could finally play a team game, as he had always wanted to. This was something that was not to be accomplished with his ‘Golden Warriors’ teammates.
Parish’s career touched the zenith with the ‘Celtics,’ and he subsequently earned many accolades. He became the all-time leader of blocked shots, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and total rebounds. He played 14 seasons and 1,106 games with the ‘Celtics.’
In 1994, Paris joined the ‘Charlotte Hornets’ as an unrestricted free agent. He played as a back-up to Alonzo Mourning. In September 1996, he moved from the ‘Charlotte Hornets’ to the ‘Chicago Bulls,’ once again signing up as a free agent.
He played the last game of his career with the ‘Bulls,’ before officially retiring on August 25, 1997. He was 43 years of age at the time of his retirement. He became the third- oldest player to have played in an ‘NBA’ game, behind Nat Hickey and Kevin Willis. By that time, he was the only remaining “big guy” of ‘The Big Three’ in the ‘Celtics,’ his other two mates having retired earlier.
In a total of 1,611 games in his career, he holds an average score of 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. Upon his retirement, he ranked 13th in the ‘NBA’ total score, with 23,334 points. He was sixth in rebounds, with a score of 14,715; sixth in blocked shots, with a score of 2,361; and eighth in field goals, with a commendable score of 9,614.
Parish played for the ‘Celtics’ for 14 long years, from 1980 to 1994. Together with McHale, Bird, and Cedric Maxwell, he formed one of the most formidable frontlines in the history of the ‘NBA.’ Parish, MacHale, and Bird together came to be known as “The Big Three.” The three were recognized in the ‘NBA’s 50th Anniversary ‘All-time Team’
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Awards & Achievements
During his career as a ‘Boston Celtic’ player, he got to play in the ‘NBA All-Star’ games nine times.
He won three ‘NBA Championships’ with the ‘Celtics’ (1981, 1984, and 1986) and a fourth one with the ‘Chicago Bulls’ (1997). He was on the ‘All-NBA Second Team’ in 1981–1982 and on the ‘All-NBA Third Team’ in 1988–1989.
He holds the ‘NBA’ record for playing the maximum number of games. Parish played 1,611 ‘NBA’ games throughout his 21-year-long illustrious career.
In 1982, he was included in the ‘Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame.’ In 1988, he found a place in the ‘Centenary College Athletics Hall of Fame.’ In 2003, he made a place in the ‘Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.’
The ‘Boston Celtics’ retired the jersey number “00” in 1998 in order to honor the team’s beloved “The Chief.”
The ‘Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame’ and the ‘College Basketball Hall of Fame’ inducted Parish in 2001 and 2006, respectively.
Family & Personal Life
Throughout his career, Parish took a keen interest in martial arts and yoga, both of which contributed to his tremendous agility and endurance on the court. He leads a life of restraint, sticking exclusively to a vegetarian diet, which helps him stay fit and healthy.
Parish’s former wife, Nancy Saad, whom he separated from in 1990, later accused him of physically abusing her. She alleged that he had kicked her down a flight of stairs when she was pregnant.
Parish was given the famous nickname, “The Chief,” by his equally talented ‘Celtics’ teammate Cedric Maxwell. The name was inspired by the Native American character ‘Chief Bromden’ from the movie ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’ Apparently, the stoicism displayed by ‘Chief Bromden’ matched Parish’s nature.