Robert Parish had the chance to play alongside and against three of the best players in the history of basketball, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. He shared touches with Bird and Jordan in different stages of his career. During his prime, he created a Big 3 with Bird and Kevin McHale in Boston. He would finish his career with the Chicago Bulls in 1997.
Talking with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Parish compared the leaderships he saw from Bird, Jordan and Magic during his active days.
“What set Larry apart from Magic and Jordan was he wasn’t an in-your-face leader like they were,” Parish said. “He had too much respect for us. If you weren’t having a good night, he was more inclined to encourage you, or not say anything at all. But Magic and Jordan would jump all over you.”
He recalled one incident with MJ where he failed a training routine. Jordan went after him, telling him he didn’t like that, and Parish stood up for himself against the GOAT.
“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.”
He would win the 1997 NBA championship with the Bulls to finish his career. Even though he wasn’t the dominant player he used to be, he made it clear that he wasn’t one to mess with, even if that meant going against Jordan, the leader of the team.