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The time Robert Parish refused to put up with Michael Jordan

Mar 9, 2012, 6:37 PM EDT

robert parish Bulls Getty Images

There is a fantastic story up at ESPNBoston.com looking at the end of the first “Big Three” in Boston — Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

McHale and Bird finished their careers as Celtics, but people often forget that Parrish spent two years in Charlotte then went on to the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls — the middle season of Michael Jordan’s post-baseball, second threepeat with the Bulls.

By this point Jordan was an established leader whose style was intimidation and pressure. Jordan was the ultimate alpha male who let you get away with nothing.

Parish had been through too much for that, as he tells the story.

In one of his first practices with the Bulls, Parish botched one of the plays and was amused to find Jordan jawing at him just inches from his face.

“I told him, ‘I’m not as enamored with you as these other guys. I’ve got some rings too,’ ” Parish recalled. “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.”

I imagine Jordan tells that story differently.

Parish played sparingly for that Bulls team — he got in only 43 regular season games and two playoff games — then retired, but with his fourth ring. We will always think of him as a Celtic, but he has at least one good Bulls story, it turns out.

  1. goforthanddie - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    First reason I’ve been given to like Parish, and it’s a doozy.

  2. Joe Munley - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    I imagine Jordan would tell that story differently as well, but it would be fun to watch that exchange play out.

    • colincb - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:07 AM

      The rest of the story not mentioned above is that Parrish has a black belt.

  3. dirtydavis - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Parish > MJ

    • bozosforall - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:17 PM

      In his dreams.

      • giselleisasucubus - Mar 10, 2012 at 1:53 AM

        you dont even know who he is

      • bozosforall - Mar 12, 2012 at 2:05 PM

        I remember watching him play when he was still with Golden State. I’ve forgotten more about the guy than you will ever know.

  4. bearsstillsuck - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    I find that hard to believe.

    • deadeyedesign23 - Mar 9, 2012 at 7:32 PM

      I think this is a “your side / my side / the truth” situation.

  5. vstyle23 - Mar 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Michael Jordan was a jerk?

    • mightyquinn69 - Mar 14, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      Was? Always will be. That’s why he will never have a sucessful team, because players don’t wanna play for him.

  6. johnnyru131 - Mar 9, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Jordan demanded excellence. His teammates hated him during practice, I heard a story once where Jordan and Steve Kerr went at it, but guess what? It worked, six titles says it all and if no one should be surprised since Jordan even ripped his kids during his hall of fame speech.

  7. stropcity - Mar 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Chief was right. Yelling at Brad Sellers for screwing up a play is one thing, but Chief had rings, and at that point of his career, what did he have to lose by telling Jordan to shove it? Good for you, Chief!

  8. anhdazman - Mar 9, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    Jordan tried to intimidate everyone, even his team mates. But like the Chief said, I’ve been there, done that, step the hell off….which MJ did.

  9. neelyisgod - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:21 PM

    Smoke some reef with the Chief and always come up with some good stories afterwards.

  10. isujames - Mar 9, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    GTFOH, That is MJ,jordan,air Jordan/The G-O-A-T!!! Your mother wouldn’t believe that story larry.

  11. jagwar73 - Mar 9, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    All hail the Chief!

  12. glink123 - Mar 9, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Chief should’ve invested more wisely, so he wouldn’t have had to hang around at 40-plus years of age lumbering through the lane like a complete f-ck up.

    • bigmeechy74 - Mar 10, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      haha yeah I’m sure you are more successful than he is

    • giselleisasucubus - Mar 10, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      did you get a shipment of his weed? You would have to be stoned to say something that dumb.

  13. petthefurrywall - Mar 9, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Chief is a third degree black belt.

  14. Kansachusetts - Mar 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    That was a great story, Kurt, thanks for pointing it out.

  15. giselleisasucubus - Mar 10, 2012 at 1:51 AM

    I believe every word of it. How many of you actually watched this guy? I did. He was mean, and he didnt give a f&*k what anyone thought. This is the same guy who got busted with weed because he was having it fedex’ed to his house in weston, the richest town in the country. DUde just doesnt give a f&*k. He would have whooped Jordans ass. Then smoked a blunt.

    • bozosforall - Mar 12, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      I heard a story that he had dudes like yourself lined up outside of his house all day long just waiting for a chance to sniff his jock for thirty seconds. Thank goodness for the pro leagues (and colleges that end up having to import their decent athletes), otherwise there would be zero to talk about sports-wise in New England.

    • mightyquinn69 - Mar 14, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      Damn skippy. MJ couldn’t fight anyways. He only sold wolf tickets…RP would have beat the brakes of his a$$..

  16. asublimeday - Mar 10, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    If I were a washed-up bench player who never came close to Jordan’s celebrity or talent, and always played third-fiddle even in my prime…I guess I’d be bitter enough to make up a story too.

    • giselleisasucubus - Mar 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      you are CLUELESS. CLUELESS. Have you ever watched him play? you are a complete idiot.

  17. asublimeday - Mar 10, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    “cool, I like your three rings. I currently have four, and will end up with six. I’m also the greatest to ever play the game. Go get me a soda, bitch.”

  18. toppdogg51 - Mar 10, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    All hail the Chief!

  19. dgbk - Mar 10, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    i buy the story parish never came across as an attention seeker….. plus he is seven feet tall with a blk belt… MJ cant fight just cause he can has 6 rings can dunk and have cool sneakers ppl act like noooo one ever put him in his place…. mj standing on steve kerr couldnt kick parish butt….. if will perdue said this i will think it was crap… if parish never took crap from bird why would he take it from jordan

  20. lucky5934 - Mar 10, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    I love the comments about the Black Belt. Has ANYONE ever seen a 7-footer do karate in real life (or even a movie)? Yeah me neither. At his age and height, the thought of him using a sun dial to measure how fast his roundhouse kick is as appropriate as Parish doing anything more than choking Jordan in a fight with his excessively long arms. I am not saying their is not some truth to this story. But I seriously doubt Jordan was such a punk that he was “afraid” of an “aged” Robert Parish. I am sure it was simply a matter of Jordan thinking well this old timer is just trying to ride out of the sunset with one more ring on the downside of his career. Why bust the balls of some old timer who can’t ball anymore. So he devoted his time to making the players better WHO ACTUALLY PLAYED on a consistent basis. As one poster said, three sides to every story.

    • icu84bs - Mar 10, 2012 at 5:09 AM

      Ahhh grasshopper you have a lot to learn. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a black belt in kung fu and for a time trained under master Bruce Lee. Also 6 time MVP (most in NBA history). He would kick your sorry ass for sure :-)

    • icu84bs - Mar 10, 2012 at 5:11 AM

      Just rattling your chain lucky5934 :-)

    • brucster - Mar 10, 2012 at 6:25 AM

      Kareem Abdul Jabbar, also in the Movie “Game of Death ” with Bruce Lee

  21. davidly - Mar 10, 2012 at 4:51 AM

    Two words: Skibby MaRue. ‘Nuff said. Oh, crap, that’s four words. Six if you count the intro. No matter; I think you astute sports fans know what I’m gettin’ at.

  22. dutchman1350 - Mar 10, 2012 at 8:03 AM

    Bill Cartwright told a similar tale, where he threatened to break both of MJs legs.

    MJ challenged everyone, which is why the Bulls had many rings.

    • kansacity88 - Mar 14, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      LOL!! I heard that story but it said that Cartwright told Jordan that he’d “cut” him!! Basically saying “I’m not one of these young guys, so you dont yell at me!”

  23. raidafan - Mar 10, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Bill Cartwright is somebody you don’t want to mess with. Only person in the league more scarier was Anthony Mason. Mason just didn’t give a damn.

  24. jckid21 - Mar 10, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    “Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they’re going to be gray and old. … And as soon as they realize that those three guys are not coming through the door, the better this town will be for all of us. … All this negativity that’s in this town sucks.”
    — Rick Pitino

    For you young bucks out there before there was Jordan there was the Celtics v. Lakers rivalry. The Chief’s match ups with Jabbar was one piece of that rivalry. When you are 8th all time in career rebounds, 11th all time in career blocks, 26th in points scored, have 3 rings before this alleged confrontation, and smoke enough weed to kill a small Jamican village you have the right to tell Hare Jordan whatever the “F” you want!

    All Hail the Chief!

  25. jckid21 - Mar 10, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    It is always interesting to speculate how Jordan and his 90′s Bulls’ teams would have done against the Lakers and Celtics teams in their prime (1980 – 89). I can assure you of one thing the Bulls would have had a few less championships.

    The 85 – 86 Celtics team with a starting 5 of McHale, Bird, Parish, Johnson and Ainge. This team went 40 – 1 at home. Plus they had Bill Walton as a six man. Definitely had size, solid point play and of course Larry Bird

    The 86 – 87 Lakers started Jabbar, AC Green, Worthy, Byron Scott, and Magic. There bench was downright awesome. Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis, and Mychal Thompson. This team won 65 games. They had speed, size, shooters, defensive stoppers like Cooper and Rambis. The complete package.

    The 95-96 Bulls won 72 games. Had a starting lineup of Ron Harper, Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and Longley. Had a nice bench with instant offense in Kukoc and Steve Kerr.

    Personally the 86-87 Lakers would be a great match up for the 95-96 Bulls. Obviously Jordan is Jordan and there is no one on the court who is going to check him, but Cooper, Worthy, and Scott would all give it a try. Assuming that out of the starters Worthy would get the call to check Jordan because of his size, you would play Green on Rodman, which is an awesome match up because they both do exactly the same thing. Magic would probably get Pippen and vice versa. Scott would get Harper and Jabbar would get Longely. The X factor is the Lakers bench. The ability to bring Cooper in to cover Jordan is a huge advantage. Cooper was a great defender. 5 time first team nba all defensive team and defensive player of the year in 87. Plus the big bodies of Rambis and Mychal Thompson would put a lot of pressure on the Bulls to help in the middle. I think the 86-87 Lakers team has a slight edge.

    • tennsmoothie44 - Apr 6, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      i really have to laugh at this story ……..

      first of all – the championship teams of the 80′s (Celts, Lakers, Sixers, Pistons) would have wiped the floor with Jordan’s Bulls of the 90′s – then Michael would have had a big 0 in the rings category – so he had no business trying to fuck with Parish.

      second – that Detroit team that Jordan struggled against so mightily and was physically intimidated by in the late 80′s were the Celtics bitches until they got too old and beat up to keep winning – didn’t help much when Boston’s own version of Jordan (Lenny Bias) killed himself after draft day in ’86. i can’t recall that ever happened to the other contenders during that period.

      third – one member of that Detroit team who knocked Jordan on his ass countless times was the same guy that Parish knocked out with one punch in game 5 of the ’87 ECF. another member of the Detroit Bad Boys who i watched Parish back up in the ’87 playoffs was one Rick Mahorn. i kinda doubt Jordan would have been much of a concern to Robert Parish.

      fourth – i suppose if Jordan had actually tried to take Parish on that day in practice, we would have heard about it a long time ago. so apparently, he did not. it’s funny how we’ve never heard a word out of Jordan about this incident, which tells me it went down just like Parish tells it.

      finally – in case you are wondering, i live in tennessee and am a Hawks fan – so i have no dog in this fight – but i have to tell the truth when i see it.

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