This past Saturday I read an article about Robert Parish and his post playing career issues. Like many retired NBA players, Parish has had his share of financial woes claiming that he isn’t broke but needs a job and income coming in. He was coming from different angles basically saying that he didn’t want anyone feeling badly for him, but desperately needs a job. Also what he admitted was basically burning most of his bridges along the way with his former teammates.
The article took me a little by surprise considering that the NBA is very dedicated in hiring former players in positions of power in organizations throughout the league. Parish was one of the top centers ever to play in the NBA and the fact that he wasn’t given an opportunity to coach in any capacity in the league was surprising, but in no way shocking.
What was a bit horrifying about the article was Parish’s sense of entitlement that he should just be given a high paying job in the NBA based on his past playing days. He complained that his former teammates didn’t help him secure a job, although admitted that he never was in their inner circles and they weren’t in his.Parish did have a job with the Celtics almost ten years ago paying him $80,000 a year to work within the organization. The job as he mentioned was below his salary grade.
When working with young players we always tell them to always make good impressions as they never know when they are being evaluated. The people that they come in contact with teammates, coaches, fans, and administrators could be helpful in their lives in later times. Parish had plenty of time to make friends and allies in his playing days but for one reason or another did not. The NBA like any other business is one of networks and clicks. NBA decision makers like to hire their friends and people that they trust.
What bothered me about the article was that instead of trying to get his feet wet in coaching trying to assist a college team or volunteer at an NBA training camp he chose to sit at home waiting to get a call. What was also troubling with the interview was that he is expecting a modest salary of high six figure to seven figure salary as a coach in the NBA. At the age of 59 with very little experience coaching and one of the worst economies in the history of our country that may be a little steep.
To be honest I think Parish could be a great mentor to any young center trying to make it in basketball. He’s played more games in the NBA than any player in history who had such an impact on both ends of the floor. I think a team should reach out to him on some type of coaching, development, or mentoring role.
His tone was sort of non committal of who’s fault it was that he didn’t have a job in the NBA. He holds a grudge against his former teammates for not securing a job for him. Kevin McHale, Larry Bird, and Danny Ainge never left the game for very long once their playing days were over. All of them took positions with organizations and never lost a connection with the game. Maybe they should throw him a bone, but it’s no one’s business but theirs as they are decision makers and can do what they feel is best with their respective staffs.
There are multiple ideas behind this article none of which was to bash Robert Parish. Entitlement was the first thing that came to mind. Just because you were relevant at one point of your life doesn’t mean you are guaranteed anything later. Robert Parish is a Hall of Fame player that made the game fun to watch during his long career. Those days are long gone as he helped the Celtics win 3 Championships and was a 9 time NBA – All Star. Both the Celtics and Parish made out in their relationship as they paid him well to put them in a position to win and he delivered.
The second point I wanted to make is that things that you do early in life that you think are insignificant can close doors for you later. Parish’s inability to secure friendships with other teammates, team officials, and media didn’t help him in his post career. He’s had past run ins with the law which didn’t exactly scream “Hire Me!” In the past few months Royce White has lashed out at the Houston Rockets who have been jumping through hoops to try to make things as comfortable as possible to him. His sometimes insulting tweets to his bosses will not help him, but hurt his chances with other opportunities. Allen Iverson recently tweeted out that his negative actions on and off the court impacted his career and legacy because of it. It is a shame that Iverson’s career ended in his early 30′s because teams have had enough.
The third and final was that the world is very competitive. You’ve always heard that line when you are sleeping there is always someone working out and getting better. The real world is the same way. Just because you were popular or good at a sport in high school, college, or the NBA doesn’t entitle you to anything after that. With thousands of coaches that work so hard perfecting their craft to one day coach in college or the NBA by Parish just coming out and saying that someone should give him a high 6 figure/lower seven figure salary with little body of work besides his playing days is a little hard to swallow. There are video guys, lower level employees, and interns that work 75 hour weeks that deserve higher positions and may never do so.
As coaches we try to impact our kids in so many ways. We obviously want to put them in positions to be successful on the court, but our true impact can be what we can do for them off of it.