The Boston Celtics are in Montreal and they will have one of the legendary club’s great legends, Robert Parish, in their corner during Friday night’s preseason game against the Toronto Raptors at the Bell Centre.
In all simplicity, it was possible to meet Parish, a 7-foot giant. 1 inch, Thursday afternoon, at a downtown hotel. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame since 2003, the 69-year-old clearly supports his Celtics. However, he explains his presence in Montreal by his burning desire to promote basketball around the world.
“I love basketball, unlike hockey and baseball,” he admitted during the interview. I know the Bruins and Canadiens often had good teams when I played with the Celtics [entre 1980 et 1994]. We shared the Boston Garden with the Bruins. I only have one complaint about it: sometimes our patch of woods got slippery with the ice underneath, especially in the spring. It was like walking on icy water.”
Nothing to develop his love for hockey. All in all, the ex-athlete won three championships with the Celtics (1981, 1984 and 1986) while the organization totaled 17 championships, level on points with the Lakers. [NDLR : de Minneapolis et de Los Angeles] in NBA history. Which of the two formations does he think is the more legendary?
“In the 1980s, it was the Lakers. In that time they have won five championships, against three for us, he decided without hesitation. Victories and successes are the legacy of a club.
Canada on the map
In Montreal, Parish will see the Raptors, who he believes have been a big part of basketball’s popularity in Canada in recent years. Selling tickets is also the delight of resellers in Quebec these days. And that for a preparatory game.
“When the Raptors won their championship [en 2019], they put Canada on the map in the basketball world,” he said. And since then, the popularity of the sport in the country has grown steadily.”
Parish didn’t like the reaction of some Toronto fans as they cheered on an injured opponent, Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant, in the finals. Looking back, however, he says he’s happy for the Raptors because their win was good for basketball and for league equality. In fact, the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers faced each other in four straight playoffs from 2015-2018.
Rodman and his tutu
Among his old memories, the Celtics legend recounted the day Dennis Rodman walked into a Chicago Bulls practice in a tutu. With that team, led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, Parish finished his career with a fourth championship at the end of the 1996-1997 season.
“He had a personality as colorful as his hair,” Parish summarized, laughing out loud and calling Rodman a very good teammate.
The history of the “00”
The interview had just ended when Parish was asked to sign a Celtics jersey. But why the number “00”, he was asked?
“When I was young in Louisiana, I was literally the worst player on my team. I had this number 00 and got the nickname “double nothing”. It was appropriate because I was really bad…”
Today, Parish still holds the record for most regular-season games in the NBA with 1,611, ahead of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,560).
A foundation for Chris Boucher
Quebec player Chris Boucher, who had to miss out on that trip to Montreal, still used Thursday night to practically start his own foundation called “SlimmDuck.”
Color carrier Toronto Raptors wants to give young people a chance to increase their opportunities in sports and education. Boucher wants to get involved primarily in disadvantaged areas, in Montreal and Toronto.
The Raptors have also lost their last two preseason games, but if history is any guarantee of the future, they could end their preseason plan with a win over the Boston Celtics this Friday night in Montreal.
Since the NBA Canada series debuted 10 years ago, the Raptors have played in Montreal four times and have celebrated wins each time. They beat the New York Knicks in 2012 and 2014, then the Washington Wizards (2015) and the Brooklyn Nets (2018).
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