Robert "The Chief" Parish knows his basketball, and knows how to look good while playing.
While partnering with Gillette in their support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Passport to Manhood campaign, Parish was kind enough to chat with Bleacher Report about his involvement with the program. And that wasn't all.
In addition to the grooming tips he shared with Boston's eager young minds, we touched upon a little bit of everything. From Dwight Howard and Parish's all-time Boston Celtics starting five, to trash-talking from his days in Beantown, to Larry Bird's shoelaces and Kevin McHale's sock preferences.
You read those last two correctly, which means you don't want to miss what he had to say.
He wasn't just busy providing some insight into proper hygiene and how it ties into adulthood. He also took the time to provide us with a look at the NBA of yesterday and today through the eyes of a champion.
Gillette worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to update its Passport to Manhood program, which "promotes and teaches" responsibility to club boys as they enter adulthood.
As a supporter of the organization, Parish was excited to talk about his involvement in the process.
“I am excited to support Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston and their Passport to Manhood program today with Gillette,” he said, per the news release. “I spent many years in this city, so I’m honored to give back to the local community by sharing my advice with local youth as they begin a journey into adulthood — a journey in which positive role models and mentorship are so important.”
During our chat, we had the opportunity to briefly discuss how Parish approached his work with Gillette and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
B/R: Is there a specific message you've delivered with regards to inspiration and mentorship, or used particular experiences from your playing days when talking with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston?
RP: The subject matter was about grooming and hygiene. I just tried to tie that in with when I was playing, how important it was to have good grooming and hygiene because of all the sweating. Your appearance is very important, so I just tried to use my experience to make a point.
B/R: You played alongside a bunch of great players—Larry Bird and Kevin McHale just to name a few. Did any of the guys from those Celtics championship teams have any notable quirks you could share?
RP: Well, we all had our rituals that everybody goes through. I think one thing about Larry was all your shoelaces had to be straight. None of them could be crooked. Little things like that.
Kevin liked to pull the socks up high, and if he didn't have high socks, he wasn't comfortable to play. Nobody was superstitious, but it seems like some of my teammates were. The little things like that, it makes a difference.
B/R: Was there a big trash-talker on those championship teams?
RP: There was a room full of trash-talkers. Larry, Kevin, Cedric Maxwell, M.L [Carr], even Dennis Johnson. He had his moments. The biggest trash-talkers by far were Maxwell and M.L. Carr. They kept something going; they could make a little fun.
B/R: If you had to assemble an all-time Celtics starting five, who would be in it?
RP: Oh that's easy. [Bill] Russell at center. [Tom] Heinsohn and Jo Jo White at the guards. The forwards would be Bird and Mr. Sam to the Jones.
B/R: Now, if you had to assemble a starting five using just current NBA players, who would you have in that?
RP: It's a tossup between [Marc] Gasol and Dwight Howard at center. The guards would be LeBron [James] and Kobe [Bryant]. Forwards would have to be—I'm drawing a blank. What is his name?
B/R: Kevin Durant?
RP: Thank you! Yeah, Kevin Durant. Then Tim Duncan. They're the forwards.
B/R: Speaking of Dwight Howard, how do you think he's representing NBA centers today?
RP: On the court?
B/R: Both. Kind of intertwining the two, on and off.
RP: Well, on the court I think he's doing a good job of representing the centers because it seems like he's getting better.
The only complaint I have about Dwight off the court is that he needs to be decisive about his decisions. All that back and forth.
B/R: Would you give any specific advice if you could talk to him?
RP: Yeah. I would say, don't say anything until your mind is made up. I think that was part of his problem. He didn't know exactly what it was he wanted to do. And I think that was one of the reasons why he was back and forth.
Wait until you have made a definitive decision, about whatever it is that you are pondering, and then make a public announcement.
B/R: If you had to crown an NBA champion today, which team would you pick?
RP: The current champs. They are still the champs until someone beats them—Miami Heat. That's what I'm thinking. Until someone kicks their butts, they are the champs.
Tough to argue with The Chief there.
Winning three successive titles isn't going to be an easy task, but, like Parish notes, they're still the champs until another team "kicks their butts."
Will the butt kicking begin this season? And could LeBron and Co. perhaps increase their chances of winning, of forming a dynasty much like the one Parish forged in Boston, by pulling their socks up and straightening those laces of theirs?
We'll just have to wait and see. If Parish's Celtics are any indication, though, some sock hiking and lace tidying couldn't hurt.