Michael Jordan’s may have been able to bully a lot of his Chicago Bulls teammates. But not former Celtics legend and NBA Hall of Famer Robert Parish.
Parish was a guest on the Cedric Maxwell Podcast on CLNS Media and talked about one of his famous run ins with Jordan during a practice back when Parish was a Bull in 1996-1997. Parish and the second unit beat Jordan’s four straight times, infuriating the Bulls legend and Parish let his airness hear about it.
“I asked him, ‘how do you like that ass whooping we just put on him?” Parish said. “He took offense to it because clearly no one ever manned up to him, challenged him. He said if I wasn’t careful he was going to kick my ass.”
The locker room dynamic in Chicago was talked about at length in ESPN’s 10-part docuseries “The Last Dance.” Parish says his time with the Bulls was nothing like playing with Larry Bird and the Celtics in the 1980’s. According to Parish, Bird led by example and rarely raised his voice or physically bullied teammates.
“I told (Jordan), I’m not in awe of you,” Parish said. “I played with some the baddest fellas that walked on the court, and I reeled off some names. I walked with Cedric, Bird, McHale, Bill Walton, Tiny, how am I going to be in awe of you? He looked at me like I slapped his mother.”
Parish’s admonishment of Jordan got MJ off his case, but it spread through the rest of locker room room unopposed. Derrek Dickey later told Parish his opposition to Jordan shocked him.
“I was a champion when I got here,” Parish said. “With all due respect to Rodman, Scottie.”
Maxwell agreed with Parish’s assessment of the Celtics locker room. With all the conversation on Jordan’s leadership style and its merits, Max and Parish remembered a team that told each other how they felt, but never had confrontations.
“Michael could definitely wear on you, very vocal almost to the point of being confrontational. He’d get right up in your personal space talking trash.
“That’s one thing I was liked about us (1980s Celtics) we respected one another. We talked a lot of trash but there’s always that respect. And i think that’s where Michael crossed the line. He didn’t always respect his teammates but he demand perfection. I feel if you’re going to demand perfection you’ve got to give some respect, let your teammates know you give a crap about them and that’s something I always though he lost sight of.”