Hall of famer Robert Parish played more NBA games than anyone in history. He says stepping away from the league was an easy decision to make
T here are few professions in which your career will almost certainly be over by the time you’re in your late 30s. Yet, in professional basketball this is the case. The game is just too fast, too physical for someone who has lost a step. It’s tough to swap the excitement and money for a more humdrum life. Some in professional sports, including Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young, have even likened retirement to “death”.
So, how do NBA players decide when it’s time to go? It’s helpful to look to the man who played the most games in league history (1,611 in the regular season and 184 more in the playoffs), Boston Celtic 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 contemplate honest-to-goodness retirement. Drafted in 1976 by Golden State, the 7ft 1in Hall of Fame big man played 21 seasons, retiring officially in 1997 after winning a fourth ring with the Chicago Bulls (he’d won three prior with Larry Bird in Boston). “A telltale sign that your career is done or close to being done is when you have a monster game, and it takes you another seven-to-10 games to have another monstrous game.”