To date, nobody has played in more NBA games than former Boston Celtics center Robert Parish. “The Chief” played 14 seasons with the Celtics, winning three championships during that stretch. Parish played 1,611 games in his 21-year career and played them well. He’s a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.
The bulk of Parish’s time came in Boston, and we took a look at five of his defining moments in green.
No. 5: Robert Parish nets double-double in Game 7 of 1984 NBA Finals
Cedric Maxwell gets much of the credit for Boston’s Game 7 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1984 NBA Finals. It was a series where the Lakers outplayed the Celtics, but Maxwell told his team to get on his back in the series finale, and he delivered with a team-high 24 points.
Lost in that game was a 14-point, 16-rebound effort from Parish. Parish also had the unenviable task of guarding Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar throughout the series. Parish helped keep Abdul-Jabbar off the boards, limiting him to six rebounds in Boston’s 111-102 victory.
No. 4: Parish scores 33 points in 2OT playoff win over Washington
The Celtics faced the Washington Bullets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1982. They entered Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead and looked to advance to the conference finals with a win back at home.
It wasn’t easy, but they got things done. The Celtics outlasted the Bullets 131-126 after the Bullets roared back to send the game into overtime by outscoring Boston 33-20 in the fourth quarter.
Parish led the way with team-highs in points (33) and rebounds (13). He made 13 of 25 shots from the floor. The 33 points were a career-high for Parish in the playoffs.
No. 3: Parish nets career-high 40 points in a victory over the Spurs
Parish was never known for his scoring, although he averaged 14.5 points for his career. On Feb. 17, 1981, scoring was his thing.
The Celtics center poured in a career-high 40 points, making 15 of 23 shots from the floor, as the Celtics cruised to a 128-116 win on the road at the San Antonio Spurs. Parish also went 10-for-15 from the free-throw line. He also led the team in rebounds with 13.
Even with his big game, he was overshadowed by the electric George Gervin, who finished with a game-high 49 points.
No. 2: The Chief loses his cool against Bill Laimbeer and the Detroit Pistons
Parish was as mild-mannered as they come. With him, there was no noise. He quietly went about his work and went home. That was until Game 5 of the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons.
Earlier in the series, Pistons center Bill Laimbeer, known for his hard fouls and cheap shots, took down Larry Bird with a hard foul, causing a fight. Both Bird and Laimbeer were ejected. Two games later, Parish pummeled Laimbeer with a couple of punches as Laimbeer went up for a rebound. It was uncharacteristic of Parish, who remained in the game but was suspended for Game 6.
“In the heat of the battle, it was the first time I had lost control of my emotions and my temper,” Parish told former Celtics teammate Cedric Maxwell on CLNS. “We had exchanged a few unpleasantries toward one another and a few elbows. I couldn’t believe I lost my composure like that. That’s the first time ever.”
No. 1: The Celtics make a franchise-altering deal with the Warriors
Before the 1980 NBA Draft, Red Auerbach pulled off a trade with the Golden State Warriors that triggered their 1980s dynasty. The Celtics held the No. 1 pick in the draft and traded it, along with the 13th pick, for Parish and the third pick.
With that third pick, the Celtics selected Kevin McHale. Parish and McHale joined a young Bird, setting up three NBA championships and five NBA Finals appearances in the decade.
Parish said it took some getting used to playing for the Celtics after his four years with the Warriors, but he adjusted quickly and helped Boston become the Eastern Conference king for much of the ’80s.