Where Are They Now? Robert Parish
By Jeff Twiss
You may have seen him around Boston again. You may have seen him appear on various television commercials. And you just might see him around the FleetCenter for Celtics games during the 2004-2005 season. He is back and he is "The Chief"... Robert Parish.
Robert, like the majority of former great Celtics Legends, has kept himself in top physical shape since his playing days ended after the 1996-1997 season. He has done this through hard work, discipline and keeping very active.
The Shreveport, LA native, went out a winner by being a member of the 1997 NBA World Champion Chicago Bulls team. The Celtics retired his familiar uniform number 00 in ceremonies at the FleetCenter in January 1998, with the other two members of 'The Big Three', Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, on each side of him on his special day. He was the successful head coach of the Maryland Mustangs, of the United States Basketball League in 2001. And, he just happened to make a stop by Springfield, MA in September 2003, where he was elected in to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
To many loyal Celtics fans, Robert's playing days with the Green and White still seem like yesterday. Who could ever forget the deafening chant by the Celtics faithful of "Chief-f-f-f-f-f-f" cascading down to the parquet floor from top of the hallowed Boston Garden. Whether it was when he was announced at center in the starting line-up or after one of his patented rainbow jump shots kissed through the net - Celtics fans would let you know who did it and the game program wasn't necessary reading.
Celtics.com's Jeff Twiss had the opportunity to talk with Robert recently and he shares his thoughts on a variety of topics.
Robert, great to see you back in Boston. Please share with our fans what you have been doing recently?
PARISH: "Well, basically, I'm doing, shall we say, a lot of nothing right about now (he says with a hearty laugh). But, seriously, I'm doing some personal appearances and some autograph signings, which keep me going. But, in all honesty, I'm just enjoying life right now."
As we look back over your wonderful career with the Boston Celtics, do you have any particular memories that are extra special close to you?
PARISH:"My first Training Camp with Bill Fitch (again, he says this with a healthy and hearty laugh). And, the first NBA championship that I was a part of in the 1980-81 season. This camp was the most intense I had seen and the end result had us winning the whole thing."
Did you take anything in particular away from your experience here in Boston or come away learning something about being a Celtic?
PARISH:"One thing that I learned was about having good teammates and what good friendship really means. I learned a valuable lesson in that area."
You had a fine high school game, a stellar career at the Centenary in college and a superb professional career. What has the game of basketball meant to you?
PARISH:"Everything to me and my family. Becoming an athlete is a big part of who I am. I did this for so-o-o long, for over 30 years, so the game of basketball has enabled me to see and do a lot of things that I normally wouldn't be able to see and do. It has enabled me and my family to have a good life. So, I owe a lot to basketball. A big debt that I don't know if I will be able to repay."
Do you have any words of advice or a message that you would pass on to younger players?
PARISH:"I would say, be dedicated, focused and don't let anyone tell you what you cannot achieve. It's all about dreams. In big dreams you get big results. Someone told me once, you aim for the moon and if you miss - you'll be among the stars. So, aim high and if you are determined enough, your dreams and aspirations will come true."
Robert, you hold the record for most seasons played (21) in NBA history. How did you see the league change over the span you played?
PARISH: "Well, the players are bigger, stronger and faster, no question about it. Obviously, there is more economic growth. There have been some rule changes added along the way. But the game went from a player-oriented league to more of a coach's league. The reason why I say that is because there seems to be more play-calling today as opposed to when I played. When I was playing, the coaches let the players play. Now, there seems to be more control today when I was a player.