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Hunger, Pain and Money: How Does an NBA Player Know When to Retire?

There are some professions in which your career will almost certainly be over by your late 30s. Yet, this happens in professional basketball. The game is too fast, too physical for someone who’s lost a step. It’s hard to trade excitement and money for a more mundane life. in some professional sports, including Hall of Fame quarterbacks steve youngRetirement has also been compared to “death”.

So, how do NBA players decide when it’s time to go? It’s helpful to look to the man with the most games in league history (1,611 in the regular season and 184 more in the playoffs), Boston Celtics great and four-time NBA champion, Robert Parish. If anyone knows, it’s him.

“I think it was my 20th year,” Parish tells the Guardian. That’s when he began to consider an honest-to-goodness retirement. Drafted by Golden State in 1976, the 7-foot-1-inch Hall of Fame big man played 21 seasons with the Chicago Bulls. officially retired in 1997 after winning a fourth ring with (he won three earlier with Larry Bird in Boston). “One telltale sign that your career is done or close to being done is when you have a Monster game, and it takes you seven to 10 games to have another monster game.”

Parish, a nine-time All-Star and a member of the league’s 75th Anniversary team, played four seasons with the Warriors before suiting up for 14 more in Boston. He then played two seasons in Charlotte, backing up center Alonzo Mourning, and one in Chicago alongside Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. Leaving the Celtics, Parish says he still felt like he was playing at a very high level. But during his tenure in Charlotte, he felt that things were going downhill.

“I’ve noticed a huge difference in my level of play,” he said. “A big, big difference. Even in practice. I’ll kick ass in practice but then it takes me four to six practices to kick that same ass again! That’s another clear sign that it’s time to retire.” – When a player who is not at your level is giving you business and you cannot give a fuck about it.

Even though Parrish began to seriously consider retirement early in his career, he thought about it much earlier. Parish was the best player on a poor Golden State team in the 1970s, and team ownership was not making the commitment to win he had hoped. As a result, he was taking too much of the blame on his shoulders. “I was seriously entertaining the idea of ​​walking away,” says Parrish, who was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and who played college ball at Centenary College. Thankfully for him, Boston Giants executive Red Auerbach traded for the big man, and Parish helped the Celtics clinch three more championships in the ’80s.

“With all due respect to the other championships,” says Parish. “There was nothing like that before for me – it’s such a mountain to climb.”

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Parrish, who started playing basketball in junior high after some huge growth spurts, says in the end, it wasn’t difficult for him to retire. “Of course not,” he says. “I knew it was time.” A career 16.5 point per game scorer with Boston, Parish averaged four points and 2.5 rebounds as well as significantly fewer minutes in his final three years. While he was ready to quit when he did, he laughs today at the thought of what it would be like to block the fifth ring in Chicago for another year and even more. But the preparation, the prospect of going through training camp, was very difficult.

“My siblings encouraged me to come back for another year,” he says. “But I lost my appetite to play. That’s why I have so much admiration for Tom Brady. His hunger for training, watching film, taking care of himself. I lost my appetite for all of that.

While contemplating his retirement in the mid-90s, Parrish talked with his mother. And he talked to his brother, who scolded him for leaving the game and money on the table. But he didn’t talk to his friends. It was an unwritten rule. Nor did he speak with Bird when Bird was considering his retirement, “even though we all realized that Larry’s time was up.” Parish also did not speak with Jordan, who had just come out of retirement in 1996, when Parish joined Chicago. Jordan subsequently retired twice.

“[Jordan]may have talked to Scottie Pippen about it because he and Scottie had a closer relationship with Michael than I do,” Parish says. “Larry is more introverted than I am, and that’s saying a lot!”

A big part of the retirement thought process is figuring out what you’re going to do after the NBA. Parish had designs on being part of the game, perhaps as a coach, general manager or broadcaster, but it never happened. He says he’s reticent to blame the breed for it, but he’s also unwilling to dismiss it. Parrish, however, says he didn’t feel any real sense of boredom until he turned 60 in 2013.

“I just became more active, traveling a little bit more. I got out more,” he says. “It didn’t look like I was going to get the (coaching) job, so I just Was trying to get out, be more active. More reading, movies, things like that.

Parish holds the record for most games played – a mark that may never be broken. “I was very lucky,” he says. “Blessed with good genetics. Hug and kiss my parents.”

But it was not just luck that kept him in the league. Parish made sure he stayed fit, practicing yoga and martial arts. He meditated. Knowing what it takes to survive in the league is one of the many reasons Parish appreciates James, who recently became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. “He still has the hunger to compete,” Parish says. “And he’s playing at a historically high level. Even Tom Brady Wasn’t Playing This Good in later years.

It is because of James’ success that Parish does not believe there is a single greatest player. He cites Bill Russell who won 11 rings in 13 years; Wilt Chamberlain who scored 100 points in a game and averaged 50.4 points a game in one season; Steph Curry who revolutionized the game with his outside shooting; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who had the most effective shot of all time with his sky-hook; Magic Johnson who was charismatic and a winner; and Bird who showed that white players can excel at the highest levels. He also cites Kevin Durant and Jordan. The greatest players of all time accomplished feats never seen before in the league.

In the end, Parish’s playing days in Charlotte and Chicago were “sweet,” he says. “I’ve had the most fun ever playing basketball.” After the pressure-filled ’80s with Boston, he was more relaxed. He got to see his career in perspective. In all his seasons, Parish says he only had one bad teammate (he doesn’t name him) and he recalls fond moments when players like Mourning, Larry Johnson, Jordan and Pippen made him feel like family. . And if he had stayed in Chicago for just one more year, his record of games played might have been untouchable. But he didn’t think his body would last.

“As I got older, it took me longer to reach that level of fitness,” he says. “Every year it took me a little longer and you had to work a little harder and smarter.”

Some players leave the NBA to play overseas, rather than retire outright. Former NBA MVP Bob McAdoo left after winning two rings with the “Showtime” Lakers and played a few seasons in Italy. Reggie Theus, despite averaging nearly 19 points the season before, left the NBA in 1991 for Italy. Others, such as Jordan and Magic, retired and came back several times. Some, however, make a clean break, such as muggy bogs, NBA’s shortest player, who packed it on the day of his mother’s death in 2001. Role player Earl Cureton, who won two rings in the league and left after a stint with the expansion Toronto Raptors, gave it his all until he could barely walk. Today, players like Carmelo Anthony and Isaiah Thomas look forward to another shot at a roster spot. But when it’s all said and done, most, like multiple-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, post emotional notes But social media and earn bye.

“I had one hell of a decision to make,” Thess tells the Guardian. “The European team offered me a four-year guarantee of over $1ma a year.” At the time, there were no eyes on NBA players playing in their late 30s. So, when New Jersey Nets GM Willis Reed said he couldn’t match the offer, Theus, 34, who later ended up in television and is now athletic director Bethune-Cookman University, took the European job. “I wasn’t ready to let go.”

Parish disagrees with Young that retirement is “death”. Except, he says, if a player hasn’t saved enough money. Then life after pro sports can be a “slow death”. Although Parish has more NBA playing experience than anyone else, young players don’t ask him for advice. He jokes, “They don’t give a shit about what we did.” Nevertheless, Parish continues to work for the league as a part-time ambassador, helping to spread the game overseas, conducting clinics, camps, and more. He also enjoys remembering his time in the NBA when he can. Given their experience, this may take some time.



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