Robert Parish was a NBA player who played for the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. He is considered one of the greatest centers in NBA history, but his career was cut short due to an on-court injury which led to him being crushed by a teammate and breaking his leg and ankle.
Robert Parish was crushed after the deaths of Len Bias, Reggie Lewis but another NBA tragedy also hit home.
With the Boston Celtics, Robert Parish had some great moments, but he also had some difficult ones. Parish saw the deaths of two young, high-profile teammates in Len Bias and Reggie Lewis during his time in Boston. After his playing days were gone, the guy known as “Chief” had to cope with the death of one of his NBA opponents.
When Robert Parish learned of Len Bias’ death, he felt a “gut blow.”
On May 15, 1988, during Game 3 of the second round of the 1988 NBA playoffs between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Boston Celtics’ Robert Parish is despondent on the floor after a fall. | Getty Images/Tom Herde/The Boston Globe
After being selected second overall in the 1986 NBA Draft, Bias was expected to make an instant impact with the Celtics. Bias, a 6-foot-8 big from Maryland with athletic ability, had only averaged 23.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. He was widely regarded as the top prospect in the draft. With the first overall selection, the Cleveland Cavaliers chose center Brad Daugherty.
In the NBA, Bias was never able to showcase his abilities. He died of a heroin overdose two days after being chosen by the Celtics.
Parish claims he never met Bias and learned of his death while traveling along the Massachusetts Pike.
Parish told former colleague Cedric Maxwell on the Cedric Maxwell Podcast, “When I first heard, I was driving down the Mass Pike, doing some errands.” “Not only was it a setback for the business, but it was also a setback for his family. I had no idea who he was until it struck me. Someone losing their life so young, so brutally, was a stomach blow for me.”
Robert Parish was deeply affected by the death of Reggie Lewis in 1993.
So, between 1986 and 2008, why didn’t the Boston Celtics win any championships?
Len Bias passed away in 1986. Reggie Lewis died in 1993 after a long battle with cancer.
We’ll never pose that question if Len Bias survives the 1986-87 season and Reggie Lewis plays beside him with the Big Three between 1987-88 and 1992-93.
August 21, 2021 — Dart Adams (@Dart Adams)
The Celtics were struck by another tragedy seven years after Bias’ death. Lewis fell on the floor during a playoff game against the Charlotte Hornets in 1993, while he was in his sixth season with the Celtics. Lewis fell and died three months later during a summer rehearsal at Brandeis University. Lewis, a first-round selection in the NBA Draft in 1987, was 27 years old when he died.
In his six years on the court, he was a promising young player who averaged 17.6 points a game. Lewis was named an NBA All-Star in 1991-92 after starting all 82 games and averaging 20.8 points per game.
Parish told Maxwell, “I’m not usually an emotional person, Cedric, but when I read about Reggie, I cried.” “That was excruciating. That made me really sad since he was like an extension of my family.
“We were teammates, and teammates are like a second family, as you know. That truly shocked me since we spent so much time together.”
The deaths of Lewis and Moses Malone, according to Parish, were the most difficult for him.
Parish spent six years on the field alongside Lewis. The former Celtics center found it difficult to cope with his untimely demise. Parish stated that the death of Lewis has stayed with him for a long time and that he still thinks about him. He also spoke about another NBA-related fatality he had to deal with. This one, on the other hand, wasn’t a teammate. It was Moses Malone, a player with whom he had sparred on the court.
“Reggie and Moses Malone were two deaths that truly upset me,” Parish added. “When those two died, it really shattered my world.”
Malone, unlike Lewis, lived long after his playing days were over. In 2015, he died of heart illness at the age of 60. On the court, he and Parish had several squabbles, which peaked during Malone’s early 1980s stints with the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers.
In the 1981 NBA Finals, the two faced off. Then they fought it out in the Eastern Conference while Malone was with the 76ers. They battled beneath the basket, yet off the court they shared mutual respect for one another.
It took a lot to get Parish to express his feelings. Lewis and Malone’s tragic deaths did exactly that.
RELATED: In the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals, Robert Parish pummeled Bill Laimbeer, and Both He and the Celtics Got Away With It
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