9.24.2008

Parish Dominates as C's Down Bullets

1981-82 Boston Celtics

The perpetual scowl melted for a moment and if you looked closely, Robert Parish almost smiled when he walked to midcourt to collect his championship ring.

But he didn't smile. It might haved lowered his IQ (Intimidation Quotient). Instead, he collected the ring, stripped off his sweats and played like a champion in the Celtics ' 124-100 Garden victory over the Washington Bullets last night.

In 26 minutes, Boston's double-0, 7-foot center made nine of 10 floor shots, four of five free throws, snatched a game-high 12 rebounds and blocked two shots as the Celtics dismantled the once-mighty gang from Landover, Md.

Backup center Rick Robey, who is to Parish what Rich Gossage is to Ron Guidry, put it this way: "In practice, I play every day against the best center in the league. He's quick and he blocks shots and he runs the floor. If I can stop him, I can stop anybody. I see moves in the pivot everyday that are as good as there are in this league. And you can quote me."

Bullet coach Gene Shue, sounding like a man who has to be told when his shoes are on fire, said, "I really wasn't noticing Parish all that much. I was more interested in what we were doing."

What his Bullets were doing was letting Parish destroy them under the boards. In the first half, while Shue was watching Spencer Haywood (four turnovers in 12 minutes) and Jim Chones (0 for 4 from the floor) stumble on the parquet, Parish was scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. With the score tied at 19, Parish scored Boston's next eight points, and the Bullets answered with only two as the Celtics raced to a 27-21 lead. It was 62-43 by the half.

"Robert did some dynamite rebounding," said Celtic coach Bill Fitch. "His rebounding really was the thing that stood out. Larry (Bird) is Larry and today he passed it around (20 points, five assists). Robert did it at both ends. He's the biggest guy on the floor and he took advantage."

While ex-recluse Bird is suddenly sounding like he's been taking courses at the Adlai Stevenson School of Public Speaking, Parish remains the most private and quiet Celtic. But he talked freely about his opening night masterpiece.

"It's nice to get off to a good start," said the 28-year-old pivotman. "At times I wish I played better defense. I got into foul trouble down the stretch (he fouled out with 8:17 left)."

What about that first ring?

"That was the icing on the cake," he said. "After winning the whole thing, that sort of finalized things. It was the same high that we felt when we won in Houston. Now we've come out, ready to go."

Parish signed a multiyear contract this spring, then read about a free- agent backup center named Mitch Kupchak landing an $800,000-per-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It if bothers him, it doesn't show.

"I want to be more agressive this year," he said. "We're gonna need it. Teams are going to be fired up for us because we're the champs. I'll try to be more intimidating."

A nosy reporter asked Parish about his outside interests. What does a seven-foot bachelor do in his spare time?

"A lot of nothing," said Parish. "I hang around and listen to music."

From the next cubicle, Cedric Maxwell laughed and said, "Stop lyin'."

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