Robert Parish walked through the doors of the TD Banknorth Garden a little older and a little grayer, but still convinced he could help the Celtics win, either on the court or in the community.
Officially, he will serve as a consultant for the organization, dealing with the marketing, community relations, and sponsorship departments. Parish will be part of several new initiatives intended to increase interaction between current and former Celtics players and fans, including meet-and-greets and autograph sessions.
During the offseason, Boston ended its working relationship with Bill Russell , who served as a consultant for six years with responsibilities similar to those assigned Parish. "This is just another opportunity for me," said Parish, before the Celtics' 99-98 win last night over the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I've been doing some marketing on my own. The Celtics have graciously brought me back into theCeltics' family and they also provided some more marketing opportunities for me and I'm doing some community work for the Celtics . . . This is where it all started for me career-wise. This is where my career took off and then blossomed as a ballplayer. So, I'm very happy and very excited to be back in Boston and to be working with the Celtics again."
With that polished answer, Parish sounded well prepared for his official duties.
But unofficially, he will serve as a special coaching assistant, making enough appearances at practice to tutor the team's young big men, but not too many for fear of becoming a nuisance. Parish remains open to coaching in the future.
"It's like an open door [to practice]," said Parish, who has appreciated the work ethic of Al Jefferson and Kendrick Perkins when they attended his summer big man camp in Florida, but still must build relationships with the players. "It's up to me how often I show up, how often I want to be around practice."
When asked just how often that would be, Parish added: "I don't want to be a nuisance. I don't want to be in anyone's way. So, enough to get familiar with the players and find out what's going on and what's developing, so I can speak intelligently about the team."
Late start for Jefferson
It was a long day for Jefferson, who returned from a family funeral in Mississippi around 1 p.m. Since Jefferson missed practice Tuesday and shootaround yesterday morning, coach Doc Rivers was uncertain how he would use the big man. Jefferson remained on the bench until 1 minute 58 seconds remained in the first half, but he made his biggest impact with three straight baskets midway through the fourth quarter. In the process, the second-year power forward capped 10-0 run with a hook shot and gave the home team the lead for the first time in the final period. But perhaps more importantly, the baskets gave Jefferson a much-needed boost of confidence. "I want to be ready when he calls my name to go out there and play and do my best," said Jefferson, who had 8 points on 4-for-4 shooting. "I really believe my teammates had more confidence in me than me for a couple games. That's bad when you're teammates have more confidence in you than yourself."
Among the missing
Orien Greene did not play as he nursed a left foot sprain. The injury has improved, but Rivers seemed to be taking a cautious approach with the rookie point guard . . . In the regrettable numbers department, Lawrence Roberts (0 for 7) came close to joining a list for most free throws attempted without making one. Shaquille O'Neal tops the list with an 0-for-11 performance against Seattle Dec. 8, 2000 . . . While Mark Blount appears back to his old self, scoring 17 points on 8-for-14 shooting, he did post some poor numbers. Blount grabbed just a single rebound in 38 minutes 39 seconds. He also had a team-high six turnovers.