NBA Player Directory
Parish player file
A combination of endurance, perseverance and superior basketball skills has allowed the always-stoic Robert Parish to fashion an NBA career that is almost unparalleled for its length and productivity. A member of three NBA championship clubs while at Boston, the 7-foot center added another title in 1996-97 when, at age 43, he was a backup center on the Chicago Bulls. Parish has played in more NBA games (1,611) and more seasons (21) than anyone else in NBA history and he ranks among the NBA's all-time leaders in scoring and rebounding.
During the 1996-97 campaign he was honored as one of the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History."
Parish, who is known as "Chief" after a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, played college ball at Centenary in his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana. 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. He averaged 9.1 points as a rookie, then improved to 12.5 in his second season. He would average double figures in 17 consecutive seasons.
The Warriors traded Parish to the Boston Celtics 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 the Atlantic Division 9 times, reached the NBA Finals 5 times, and came away with three NBA titles. Parish, Larry Bird, and Kevin McHale formed one of the league's most storied front lines.
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 points per game. He averaged a career-best 12.5 rebounds 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 Abdul-Jabbar to become the league's all-time leader in games played late in the 1995-96 season.
On September 25, 1996, he signed with Chicago as a free agent and got another championship ring when the Bulls won 69 games and the NBA crown in 1996-97. Parish appeared in 43 regular-season and two playoff games for the Bulls.
Playing in a record 21st NBA season, Parish added a championship ring with Chicago to the three he won with Boston as he raised his total games played to 1,611, the most in NBA history.
Parish appeared in 43 regular-season games for the Bulls, making three starts, and averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9.4 minutes per game. He scored a season-high 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting, in a 113-92 victory over New Jersey on Dec. 13 and grabbed a season-high 10 rebounds in a 108-103 loss at Atlanta on Dec. 26, the last of his three starts.
He also played in two playoff games, getting two points and four rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Chief passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's total of 1,560 games played on April 6 at Cleveland and finished the season as the NBA's all-time leader with 1,568. He also tied Abdul-Jabbar's mark of having played in 20 NBA seasons.
Parish spent much of the early part of the season as an unofficial coach for the Hornets' young centers, Matt Geiger and George Zidek, and saw relatively little action. But his playing time, and contributions, increased as the season wore on. He started the last 23 games for the Hornets, averaging 6.9 points. 6.9 rebounds and 1.65 blocks in 25.8 minutes per game. His best stretch came from March 24 through April 2, when he averaged 10.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.50 blocks and 31.2 minutes in six games.
Parish scored in double figures 11 times, with a season-high 16 points against San Antonio on Feb. 6, and was in double figures in rebounds eight times, with a season-high 17 at Denver on March 26. He had four double-doubles and had two blocks or more on 14 occasions, with a team season-high seven blocks against the Lakers on April 2.
For the season Parish averaged 3.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 14.7 minutes in 74 games. In September, 1996, he signed with Chicago as a free agent.
An era officially ended when Parish left the Boston Celtics in the 1994 offseason to sign a free-agent contract with the Charlotte Hornets. He was the last remaining member of Boston's 1986 championship team and the last member of a legendary front line that included Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
The league's elder statesman at age 41, Parish played his 19th NBA campaign in 1994-95. Although he averaged in single digits in scoring for the first time since his rookie campaign, he was nevertheless an important addition to the Hornets, helping the team to its first 50-win season.
Parish appeared in 81 games for the Hornets, giving him a total of only 64 missed games during his long career. He averaged career lows of 4.8 points and 4.3 rebounds, serving mostly as a backup to Alonzo Mourning. Parish hit for a season-high 16 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on November 5 and again versus the Denver Nuggets on December 3, and he grabbed a season-best 12 rebounds against the Boston Celtics on February 1.
Parish finished the season with 1,493 games under his belt, second only to the 1,560 appearances racked up by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On November 12 Parish became the eighth player in NBA history to pass the 14,000-rebound mark, and he finished the season in seventh place on the NBA's all-time rebounding list with 14,323 boards, only 141 behind Nate Thurmond. Parish ended the season with 22,875 points, making him the No. 12 scorer in NBA history.
Parish added to his playoff totals as the Hornets lasted four games in the 1995 postseason before falling to the Chicago Bulls in the first round. He averaged 3.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 17.8 minutes for the four outings.
With the departure of Kevin McHale, 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's record of longevity surpasses even some of the greatest names in basketball history.
During the season he became the 12th NBA player to score 22,000 career points, passing Larry Bird along the way. Parish also moved past Wes Unseld into eighth place in career rebounding.
As the game's grand old man, Parish continued to amaze even at the age of 40. He had logged more years in Celtics Green than Tiny Archibald and Dennis Johnson combined. He led Boston in rebounding 25 times in 1993-94. He twice scored 26 points and twice hauled in 17 rebounds during the season. Remarkably, in an April 22 game against the Chicago Bulls, Parish 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 season to sign as a free agent with the Charlotte Hornets.
Larry Bird retired, but "the Chief" kept rolling. Parish, the league's oldest player, averaged 12.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, and he became the NBA's 13th all-time scorer. He also passed Elvin Hayes to move into second place in games played, and he became the eighth player to play 40,000 regular-season minutes.
In addition, Parish joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players to record more than 20,000 points, 12,000 rebounds, and 1,900 assists. Parish finished the season ranked 12th in the league with a .535 shooting percentage.
Parish contributed 17.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game in four playoff appearances against the Charlotte Hornets, who won the teams' first-round series.
This was a milestone season for Parish, who averaged 14.1 points and 8.9 rebounds. The special moments included his 20,000th career point, scored on January 17 against the Philadelphia 76ers; his 12,000th career rebound; his 1,000th steal; his 1,200th game played; and his 2,000th block. He is one of only 18 players in NBA history to reach the 20,000-point plateau.
The Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Parish averaged 12.0 points and 9.7 rebounds during the playoffs, which comprised the final games of Larry Bird's career.
Playing for his fourth coach (Chris Ford) as a Celtic, Parish just kept plugging along. He scored his 19,000th career point on February 15, finishing the season with averages of 14.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and making his ninth appearance in the NBA All-Star Game. He had the league's second-best shooting percentage (.598) behind Portland's Buck Williams (.602).
Parish averaged 15.8 points and 9.2 rebounds during a playoff run that ended when Boston lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Detroit Pistons in six games.
Parish averaged 15.7 points and 10.1 rebounds and scored career point No. 18,000 (March 7) during Jimmy Rodgers's second and final season as the Celtics' head coach. With his .580 shooting percentage, "the Chief" ranked third in the league behind the Phoenix Suns' Mark West and the Philadelphia 76ers' Charles Barkley. After a two-year absence from the NBA All-Star Game, he returned in splendid fashion, scoring 14 points on 7-of-11 field-goal shooting.
Boston, 52-30 during the regular season, lost to the New York Knicks, three games to two, in the opening round of the 1990 NBA Playoffs. Parish averaged 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds during the postseason.
If people were waiting for Parish to slow down, they were disappointed. The veteran made the All-NBA Third Team following a season in which he averaged 18.6 points and 12.5 rebounds. He grabbed his 10,000th career rebound on February 22.
The Celtics, meanwhile, struggled to a 42-40 record as Larry Bird played only six games after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs on each heel. Boston lost its three opening-round playoff games against the eventual NBA-champion Detroit Pistons, with Parish averaging 15.7 points and 8.7 rebounds.
By season's end, the Los Angeles Lakers had won their fifth NBA title in nine years. The Celtics, having won three titles in the 1980s, were done winning championships for the decade, but they certainly weren't done winning.
Parish remained consistent throughout the regular season (14.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg) and during the postseason (14.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg). He finished second in the league to teammate Kevin McHale in field-goal percentage, .589 to .604.
Boston lost to the Detroit Pistons in a six-game Eastern Conference Finals, snapping a string of four straight Celtics appearances in the NBA Finals.
An All-Star for the seventh consecutive year, Parish contributed 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game in his 11th season, which included his lone career triple-double, recorded on March 29 against the Philadelphia 76ers. His season was marred by a one-game suspension in late May for punching longtime nemesis Bill Laimbeer of the Detroit Pistons.
The Celtics played in another NBA Finals but lost to the Magic Johnson-led Los Angeles Lakers in six games. Parish averaged 18.0 points and 9.4 rebounds in the playoffs, even though an injured left ankle forced him to miss a second-round game against the Milwaukee Bucks, snapping a string of 116 consecutive playoff appearances.
The season produced a third NBA Championship in six seasons for Parish and a 16th world title for the Boston Celtics. In another All-Star campaign, "the Chief" averaged 16.1 points and 9.5 rebounds during the regular season as the Celtics cruised to the league's best record at 67-15.
Parish averaged 15.0 points and 8.8 rebounds during Boston's 18 playoff games. The Celts clinched the NBA crown by beating Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets in a six-game NBA Finals.
The NBA would never be the same after the Chicago Bulls introduced a rookie named Michael Jordan this season. Parish, meanwhile, provided Boston with another quality year. In fact, his statistics during the regular season (17.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg) nearly mirrored those he had produced during the postseason (17.1, 10.4). An All-Star for the fifth straight year, he finished the regular season ranked seventh in the league in rebounding.
Boston, with a 63-19 record, was the NBA's best team during the regular season. The Celtics reached the NBA Finals as expected, but this time they lost to the talented Los Angeles Lakers in six games.
The Celtics' disappointment of the previous season was erased as Parish, Bird, McHale, and Co. won another NBA Championship, during a year in which David Stern replaced Larry O'Brien as NBA Commissioner.
Parish averaged 19.0 points and 10.7 rebounds, good for seventh in the league and another All-Star selection. The season included his 10,000th career point, scored in a game against the Phoenix Suns on February 26.
For the first time, thanks to an increase in the size of the playoff field, Boston was forced to win four playoff series to capture the league crown. The Celtics defeated Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Los Angeles Lakers in a seven-game NBA Finals that included two victories in overtime by Boston. Parish averaged 14.9 points and 10.8 rebounds in 23 playoff games.
This was another All-Star season for "the Chief," who averaged 19.3 points and 10.6 rebounds. From a team standpoint, however, it was a disappointing year. Despite a 56-26 record, Boston finished second to the eventual NBA-champion Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic Division.
The Celtics played only seven playoff games, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks in four games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Parish offered 14.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game during the postseason.
Parish enjoyed one of his best seasons, earning a spot on the All-NBA Second Team and finishing second to teammate Larry Bird in voting for the league's Most Valuable Player Award. Bird and Parish helped fuel an 18-game Celtics winning streak late in the season. In addition, Parish scored 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting in the 1982 NBA All-Star Game.
He finished 20th in the league in scoring (19.9 ppg) and eighth in rebounding (10.8 rpg) and teamed with Kevin McHale to form a formidable front line, registering a team-high 192 blocks, fifth best in the NBA. McHale had 185 swats, sixth best in the league.
The Celtics' season was brought to an end by Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Sixers needed a 120-106 Game 7 victory at Boston Garden to clinch the series. Parish extended his great season through 12 playoff games, averaging 21.3 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Red Auerbach and the Boston Celtics could hardly have anticipated the effects of three new additions in a span of two seasons. Larry Bird had joined the team in 1979-80 after being drafted as a junior-eligible in 1978. The Celtics then acquired Parish from the Golden State Warriors in June 1980 in exchange for two first-round draft picks, one of which was the No. 1 overall selection. Boston also received Golden State's 1980 first-round draft pick in the deal, which the Celtics promptly used to select Kevin McHale. The rest is history.
This became the most important season in Parish's career. He became the Celtics' starting center when Dave Cowens suddenly retired, and he responded by averaging 18.9 points and 9.5 rebounds in 82 games, beginning a string of seven consecutive appearances in the NBA All-Star Game.
Matching muscle with the Houston Rockets' Moses Malone in the 1981 NBA Finals, Parish helped Boston to the 1981 NBA Championship in his first year with the club. During the playoffs, he averaged 15.0 points and 8.6 rebounds in 17 games.
For the next decade, Bird, Parish, and McHale would reign supreme in the NBA, winning three championships and cultivating a fierce rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers and their stars, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Parish finished seventh in the NBA in rebounding for the second straight year, grabbing 10.9 boards per game in a season shortened by injuries. He played in only 72 games, averaging 17.0 points and shooting .507 from the floor, the second-best field-goal percentage on the team behind Clifford Ray's .530.
The last-place Warriors (24-58) missed the playoffs for a third straight year, but the postseason took on a new meaning for Parish after June 9, 1980. On that date he was traded by Golden State, along with the Warriors' 1980 first-round draft choice, to the Boston Celtics for the Celtics' two 1980 first-round picks. It would be 14 years before Parish would sit out another NBA postseason.
Parish continued his steady improvement, developing what would become an unstoppable turnaround jump shot. He averaged 17.2 points and 12.1 rebounds in 76 games, pacing the Warriors in rebounding and ranking second on the team in scoring. He finished the season with 916 boards, seventh best in the NBA and the second-highest total of his career behind the 996 he would grab in 1988-89.
Parish had a monster night on March 30 against the New York Knicks, snatching a career-high 32 rebounds. For a second straight year, however, the Warriors failed to make the playoffs, finishing at 38-44 and in last place in the Pacific Division.
In only his second NBA season, Parish began to emerge as a force in the pivot. He averaged 12.5 points and 8.3 rebounds, ranking third on the Warriors in scoring behind Rick Barry (23.1 ppg) and Phil Smith (19.7). Parish also finished second in rebounding behind Clifford Ray (9.6 rpg). He held his own at the center position, matching up with such greats as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, Dan Issel, Bill Walton, George McGinnis, and Jack Sikma.
Despite Rick Barry's prolific scoring, the Warriors finished in last place (43-39) in the competitive Pacific Division and failed to make the playoffs.
When Robert Parish began his NBA career, players such as Pete Maravich, Earl Monroe, Bob Lanier, Elvin Hayes, Rick Barry, Julius Erving, and John Havlicek graced the NBA leaderboard-and Shaquille O'Neal was only 4 years old.
Parish's college career at Centenary included a 50-point effort against Southern Miss, and he twice grabbed more than 29 rebounds in a collegiate game. Selected in the first round of the 1976 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, he found himself a teammate of Barry, Phil Smith, and Jamaal Wilkes. Parish played in 77 games as a rookie, averaging 9.1 points and 7.1 rebounds, hardly indicative of the great career ahead.
Parish averaged 12.1 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 playoff games as the Warriors reached the Western Conference Semifinals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.