It’s often forgotten that legendary Boston Celtics center Robert Parish played one season with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls at the end of his storied career. As a well-respected veteran and three-time NBA champ when he came to Chicago, one might think that “The Chief” might be cut a little slack from No. 23 during practices but as we all saw play out during The Last Dance, Michael Jordan doesn’t really take it easy on anyone, does he? But as someone who was no stranger to playing alongside legendary figures, Parish certainly wasn’t going to be intimidated by anyone, not even Michael Jordan. Apparently, Jordan once got in Parish’s face at practice and the Hall of Famer shut that down pretty quickly.
Michael Jordan was notoriously very tough on his teammates
Everyone knows that Michael Jordan was very tough on his teammates, especially during his championship seasons with the Chicago Bulls. There was the fight with Will Perdue. There was the fight with Steve Kerr. We all saw how he talked to Scott Burrell. He even told flight attendants not to serve Horace Grant food on a plane after Horace had a rough night. Jordan may have found it easy to pick on certain players because most hadn’t achieved what he had. But few had the pedigree of Robert Parish when he came to the Windy City in 1996.
After winning three titles with the Boston Celtics, Robert Parish joined the Chicago Bulls ahead of the 1996-1997 season
When Robert Parish came to the Chicago Bulls ahead of the 1996-1997 season, he had already put in two decades in the NBA. After beginning his career with the Warriors, “The Chief” joined the Boston Celtics ahead of the 1980-1981 season and made an immediate impact in Beantown, earning the first of nine All-Star selections. Alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, he became a key member of a Celtics team that went on to win three NBA titles in the 1980s. Parish was as tough as they came and wouldn’t back down from anyone, as evidenced by the big right hand he once threw at Bill Laimbeer when the Celtics were battling the Detroit Pistons for Eastern Conference supremacy. So when the seven-footer came to the Bulls, do you think he was going to let Michael Jordan push him around? Absolutely not.
Robert Parish said that Michael Jordan got in his face once and only once
The great thing about Robert Parish is that he didn’t wait until The Last Dance came out to discuss his time with Michael Jordan and the Bulls. While so many other stories were revealed as the documentary played out, Parish discussed his lone run-in with MJ with ESPN‘s Jackie MacMullan all the way back in 2012.
Apparently, during one of his first practices with the Bulls, “The Chief” made some sort of error and soon found No. 23 right in his face, which Parish shut down immediately.
“I told him, ‘I’m not as enamored with you as these other guys. I’ve got some rings too.’ At that point he told me, ‘I’m going to kick your a**.’ I took one step closer and said, ‘No, you really aren’t.’ After that he didn’t bother me.”Robert Parish on Michael Jordan
While he only played in 43 games for the Bulls that season, he collected his fourth NBA championship ring and called it a career. He went on to say in that same interview that he preferred Larry Bird’s leadership to Jordan’s.
“What set Larry apart from Magic and Jordan was 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.”Robert Parish
Well, it’s apparent that while Michael Jordan tried to jump all over Robert Parish, it certainly didn’t intimidate the 2003 Hall of Fame inductee whatsoever.