NEW DELHI: He has played more games in the National Basketball Association league than any player in history. Even a decade after retiring from active play, Robert Lee Parish, at 53, appears fitter than most members of the Indian team.
In the Capital as part of NBA’s five-week Junior NBA/Jr. WNBA Hoop School, a three-pronged initiative to promote “education, basketball participation and an active lifestyle among children in India” Parish sounded pleased with the opportunity to be in the country he has always wanted to visit.
“I am overwhelmed by the way I’ve been received here,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be in India to know a thing or two about the people and the rich culture of this great nation. But I am going to tell the coaches and players here: Don’t be in awe of my height, frame or my status. You don’t have to be tall to play good basketball. You got to get the basics right and train the right way.
“We, from the NBA, are here to help those love basketball the right way to train. One should enjoy playing this game and that’s the best way to improve. We are here to make the learning part more enjoyable,” said Parish.
Parish, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003, layed for Boston Celtics for 14 seasons during which the team won the NBA title in 1981, 1984 and 1986. In April 1996, he surpassed one of his all-time favourites, Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s record of playing 1,560 games.
Parish will also be travelling to Bangalore (November 10-12) and Mumbai (Nov. 14 to 16).
Following a three-day clinic here, ending on Saturday, more than 600 schools throughout the country will receive coaching guidelines, posters and educational guidelines aimed at enhancing the interest in basketball among children in the age-group of eight to 16 years.
The five-week programme comprises coaching clinics for Indian coaches, educational seminars and weekly youth clinics for each participating school. The Hoop School in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai will culminate next month with a competition featuring around 25 local schools.
The Basketball Federation of India Secretary Harish Sharma said: was optimistic of basketball growing in the next three years. “You’ll start noticing results,” he said. “But, for now, we have to concentrate on the process that has just begun.”