Robert Parish on how fellow iconic Celtics big man Bill Russell prepared him to play in Boston

The Boston Celtics seem to have a soft spot for big men from northern Louisiana, and it has paid off on the court for the storied franchise over the decades, whether we are talking Robert Williams III today, or Hall of Famers like Bill Russell and Robert Parish.

The latter of the trio was recently asked about Russell’s impact on the game, and Parish opened up with a tale not only about the 11-time champion but how he himself saw the city of Boston after a distasteful interaction with some misguided locals early in his career on an episode of the “Players’ Own Voice” podcast.

“Mr. Russell should be revered,” said Chief when asked whether he had any memories of Russell talking about some of the things that were important to him off the court.

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“Not so much for his on-court accomplishments, which are immense, by the way, because he won on every level — high school, college, and the professional level,” said Parish.” And as a coach, I may add!

“But what he did off the court for humans, for race relations, equality, and tolerance for all.”

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“I can never say enough about that step forward that he took,” continued Chief. “And not to mention he was taken a chance because he put his life on the line.”

“Not only his life but his livelihood. What he had could have been put in jeopardy and back then, because of all the hostility and animosity among the races. I thought issued a lot of courage, not only to him but his contemporaries, too.”

“Kareem, Jim Brown and Muhammad Ali, and the rest of the celebs that stepped up in support of what Ali was fighting for,” shared Parish.

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“One of the stories that sticks with me (is when) Mr. Russell talked to me when I first got traded to the Boston Celtics,” began the four-time champion.

“He told me that even though Boston has a reputation for being segregated, a racist city and state, he told me that the perception was worse than the reality, and that turned out to be true because it is not as bad as what you have heard. And there actually is harmony in the city and my rookie year I’ll tell you a short story,  my rookie year some of my team-mates and I was coming back from dinner, we was in town in Boston to play a game, and some teens in a car, the teenagers came, drove through twice and used the N-word.”

“So, I was really leery and hesitant of the city anyways,” admitted Parish.

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“But once I got traded there, totally different,” he explained.

“Because I feel like no matter where you are, where you go, no matter what the profession is, there’s always a knucklehead, always going to be one. So that’s what that I chalked it up to, those young fellows, that were riding through?  just a carload full of knuckleheads. And that really is not what the city of Boston is all about.”

“They just painted a very negative image,” suggested Parish. “And that’s really not what Boston is all about.”

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Listen to the “Celtics Lab” podcast on:

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/3zBKQY6

Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3GfUPFi

YouTube: https://bit.ly/3F9DvjQ

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire