Skip to main content

Robert Parish on his famous confrontation with Michael Jordan “Michael has a tendency to test his teammates especially the new faces on the team”

The Boston legend recalls a confrontation with Jordan and explains how he wasn't going to be intimidated by MJ.
Parish shares an altercation that happened between him and Jordan in Chicago

Parish shares an altercation that happened between him and Jordan in Chicago

By the 1996-97 NBA season, it was common knowledge around the NBA that Michael Jordan was a tough leader. His authoritarian leadership was a major part of the Bulls’ success.

That season, Robert Parish found himself in Chicago for his 21st season in the NBA. He had been part of the legendary Boston Celtic teams in the 80s, and just like everybody else, he was well-aware of Jordan’s dictatorial ways. However, Parish was a different breed. He did not let MJ push him around. The legendary center narrated one of his first practice sessions with the Chicago Bulls where Jordan tried to bully him. 

The second team was beating up Jordan’s first team

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

He was at half court and I was at the top of the key. I think he was a bit ticked off, too, because the second team was kicking their butt at the time and I was talking trash I didn’t back down. He said he would kick my butt, and I told him if he felt that strongly about it, come and get some. That was the end of it. We didn’t have another confrontation,” Parish shared on the Locked on Celtics Podcast.

Though this was the first time Parish teamed up with Jordan, the center already knew him like the back of his hands. He knows Jordan’s trash talk was a way to test out his new teammates. If you get riled up by Jordan’s smack, then he will be on your ear until you toughen up. But if you do not flinch and fight back, then Jordan will leave you alone. 

“Michael has a tendency to test his teammates especially the new faces on the team. I think it was more of a test than a threat. He was testing my reaction to his being a bully.... I didn’t read anything into it. I think it was just a test to see how I would respond."

Robert Parish, Locked On Celtics Podcast

Parish was not “enamored” by Jordan

This is not the first time Parish shared this story about his first few encounters with Jordan as a teammate. In several interviews, Parish talked about how he once told Jordan, ”I’m not as enamored with you as these other guys. I’ve got some rings too,”. After all, Parish was already a decorated NBA player then. Before Jordan, he was teammates with Celtics legend Larry Bird, a nasty trash talker himself. Even more so, those Celtics teams handed MJ and the Bulls a fair share of defeats early in MJ’s career.

From the looks of it, Parish’s tactic with Jordan worked. After that incident, perhaps Jordan saw the center as one of the squad’s leaders. Parish played minimal minutes in his lone season with the Bulls. But given that he helped MJ snag his sixth title, we can say that The Chief had a way more significant role than just warming up the seats. 

Los Angeles Lakers forward A.C. Green

“You only missed 3 games in 15 years?!” — Byron Scott sits down with ironman A.C. Green

It's been two decades but Byron Scott still can't fathom former teammate A.C. Green's iron man streak.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach George Karl and Anthony Mason

“The huddles were the worst” — Ray Allen on chaotic Milwaukee Bucks with George Karl and Anthony Mason

It didn't take long for Ray Allen to realize bringing in Anthony Mason was a terrible idea

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

“I can tell you the truth and it won't sound like false modesty” — Michael Jordan on what made him a special basketball player

Tony Robbins asked MJ what made him the greatest player of all time, and he loved Jordan's answer.

Philadelphia 76ers forward P.J. Tucker

“As long as we’re winning, it doesn’t matter” — P.J. Tucker on his lack of shots on the Philadelphia 76ers

Tucker acknowledged the absence of James Harden is impacting his offensive output.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley and Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut

“He has zero technical fouls in 15 seasons, that’s amazing” — Andrew Bogut astonished by unbelievable Mike Conley stat

In almost 1000 NBA games, Mike Conley was the ultimate professional and Andrew Bogut is putting the spotlight on that.