Robert Parish was one of the rare players who played through three different decades in the NBA, however, he will remember the most as the starting center for the Boston Celtics. Parish was a part of Celtics’s big three that was formed with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale back in the golden era of Celtics basketball.
Parish retired from the game of basketball at the age of 43, after the 1996/97 season when he actually won his last NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls which already featured a couple of legends. During his short sting with the Bulls Parish was able to better understand the mentality of Michael Jordan and what sets him apart from Larry Bird or Magic Johnson.
The main difference that Parish mentions between the superstars is their style of leadership. According to him, Jordan was well known for being hard on his teammates if they weren’t performing well in practice and in games, while Larry Bird was more supportive and encouraging if his team had a bad game.
What set Larry apart from Magic and Jordan as he wasn’t an in-your-face leader like they were. He had too much respect for us. If you weren’t having a good night, he was more inclined to encourage you, or not say anything at all. But Magic and Jordan would jump all over you.
Parish also remembers one of his first practices with the Bulls when Jordan started trash talking to him and got only a few inches away from his face in a heated exchange. After 20 years playing in the NBA, Parish pretty much has seen it all so he wasn’t afraid of Jordan and challenged him not to even try.
“I told him, ‘I’m not as enamored with you like these other guys. I’ve got some rings too. At that point he told me, ‘I’m going to kick your ass.’ I took one step closer and said, ‘No, you really aren’t.’ After that, he didn’t bother me.”