Mr. Parrish, can I have a hall pass?


Earlier this week, David Thorpe of ESPN did a great break down of the rookies in the NBA this season, recommending they take some lessons from NBA veterans on how to improve their game. Included in Mr. Thorpe’s recommendations was a request that Greg Oden study Tim Duncan. Mr. Thorpe states:

“When Oden returns next season, we’ll all be reminded of just how athletic and big he is. But he’s still somewhat raw offensively. So learning the low-post game from the fundamental master, Duncan, would go a long way towards getting Oden closer to being the offensive force he’s destined to become. Oden should also mix in some Amare Stoudemire tapes, reminding him that sometimes he can just dominate people with his physical talent.”

Now the greatness of Tim Duncan is undisputed and many players could stand to learn a thing or two from him. But Duncan is not the ideal choice for Oden to model his game after. Tim Duncan’s game has always been predicated on the ability to out think his opponents. Duncan’s ability to dominate a game is and never has been predicated on his ability to physically dominate his opponents, but rather overcome them by applying the soundest fundamental basketball skills the NBA has seen in some time.

By all accounts Oden is a much more athletic and quick player than Duncan ever was. Today Oden looks to be a player who, at least for this time in his career, will physically dominate his opponents and use these skills to his advantage. Not to suggest Oden is an unsound or low IQ player, but that with his inexperience he will likely rely on his physical attributes. With that being said we at the BlazersOG would like to recommend an alternative choice for Mr. Oden to study this off-season: Robert Parrish.

For 21 seasons the Chief served as the prototype NBA big man who could be counted on to do everything well on all ends of the floor, night in and night out. What stands out about Parrish’s game is how versatile of an NBA center he was. All the usual weaknesses associated with centers were missing from Parrish.

Depending on his opponent Parrish could bang down low, getting key offensive and defensive rebounds while racking up inside baskets. However, just as easily he could move to a mid-range game were he would make his opponents move out to mid-court to guard him, thereby clearing out the middle for his teammates while consistently hitting the mid-range jumper. Many consider Parrish the greatest shooting big man to ever play the game and, coupled with his ability to block shots and finish fast breaks, Parrish stands as a idea model of a “do everything” NBA big man.

Like Parrish, Greg Oden looks to have the physical skills capable of being an imposing player on both ends of the court. If early play is any measure, Oden is capable of playing smothering defense with a special talent for blocking shots. On the offensive end, Oden is a masterful rebounder and has a raw but impressive back to the basket game while also being able to run the floor with gazelle like speed.

It may be too much to ever expect Oden to have the mid-range game of Parrish but that should not stop him from trying. Like Parrish, Oden is a long player that has the distinct advantage of being able to release the ball at a point few, if any, in the NBA could block. Aside from even looking like the Chief, Greg Oden would do well to head to the lab with a pen and a pad and play some old Celtics games so he can get ready for his own dynasty.



26 Responses to “Mr. Parrish, can I have a hall pass?”

  1. You’ve picked out the right franchise but, alas, the incorrect number … for young Mr. Oden to emmulate.

    Slide on up six digits … there you’ll find the only man who has toiled in the League, to-date, that the Norse God should pattern his game after … on and off the court.

    Mr. Bill was and still is today the Gold Standard against which all Centrifugal Force wannabees MUST be measured to ascertain Greatness.

    With the gifts that have been bestowed on Greg … to this point in his life … unlike any other Big Man of the last 30+ years … save, possibly, the star-crossed other Bill (Walton) … he has the make-up and the moxy to eventually walk, side-by-each, amongst the other Titans of the Game, i.e. Bill, Oscar, Wilt, the Logo, Kareem, Larry, Magic and Michael.

    Greg … if you’re listening … seek out Mr. Russell … the only man alive today … who can show you THE WAY … to your destiny.

  2. […] Mr. Parrish, can I have a hall pass? For 21 seasons the Chief served as the prototype NBA big man who could be counted on to do everything well on all ends of the floor, night in and night out. What stands out about Parrish’s game is how versatile of an NBA center he was. All the usual weaknesses associated with centers were missing from Parrish. […]

  3. I have to agree fully with this post, and disagree with Khandor. No doubt that Russell is an absolute stud, but I don’t think the post here is trying to say Oden must be measured against anyone, but more to the point needs to study a player that will benefit him.

    Here is a good example, Shaq is a physically dominate player, probably the most physically dominate player we have seen in our lifetime, however that does not mean Oden needs to watch Shaq to be a good player. The point is to help Oden become a complete player in which to help the franchise, not to see “how he stacks up.”

    In due time I feel Oden will be compated to Russell, Shaq, etc, but the point is to get him to that option, to hone the skills he has, and to be able to compare him down the line.

  4. Khandor, I think you make a valid point. However, as great a player Russell was his offensive game is quite weak and limited to put backs and lay-ups. I think the Blazers need more out of Oden than great D, rebounding and garbage shots. Not to dog Russell but he was an incomplete player in that he had a huge whole in his game (never averaged more than 18 pts per game). Other great centers had huge whole in their game to and were amazing (Shaq, Kareem etc). Russell’s skills worked well on the team he was on because they had the offensive production from other players need to win. I don’t think the Blazers have the luxury of having Oden be a glorified Ben Wallace. No, Oden won’t have to carry all the offensive weight but he will need to put up solid offensive numbers for the Blazers to reach their full potential. But more importantly he will need to have the ability to take games over either with his defense or offensive when the Blazers need him. Russell was incapable of offensively taking over a game. Parrish on the other hand did especially come playoff time.

  5. Can you imagine the pressure that must be on Greg Oden right now? It was bad when we selected him #1, but now we’ve all been champing at the bit for an entire season, always wondering “What if?” I think GO definitely has more athleticism that we’ve seen in a long, long time from a player his size. He’s also a smart guy that I think will figure out the NBA game in fairly short order. That being said, there isn’t a single player I can think of who really plays like GO (at least in college).
    Russell, Parrish, O’Neal… we’re talking about three of the greatest centers of all time.

  6. Adam,

    Part of my point is that when most NBA analysts look at what it takes to become a champion, in the NBA, at the Center position … they make the FUNDAMENTAL mistake of thinking that it’s important to develop what they commonly refer to as a “well-rounded” game, combining Offense & Defense in equal parts.

    IMHO, however, this notion itself is spectacularly WRONG … when it comes to understanding how ‘best’ the Center position actually works in the NBA.

    The greatest player in the history of this league is Bill Russell … and, yet, he is someone who others “think” had an under-developed offensive game.

    IMHO these same observers would be WRONG.

    Basketball is divided into 3 major phases:

    * Offense (when your team has the ball)
    * Defense (when the opponent has the ball)
    * Rebounding (when neither team has the ball)

    and ONLY one player in the history of this great game has in fact figured out how to prioritize these 3 components in the correct (i.e. most effective & efficient) way … which is THE reason he and his teams were able to DOMINATE the League in a manner that no other organization has ever been able to replicate, to the tune of 11 NBA championships.

    Let me say it again so that there is no mistaking what it is I’m saying here.

    Bill Russell is the greatest NBA player of all time … not Michael, not Oscar, not Wilt, not Magic, not Larry, not anyone else you (or others) might care to mention.

    Why is that?

    Because Bill Russell figured out long ago what is most important in terms of playing this game at the highest level possible … and it isn’t by being a well-rounded Center, who focuses half (or more?) of his energy on playing offense.

    REBOUNDING and TEAM DEFENSE … in conjunction with a limited but serviceable offensive repetoire (if needed, because all else has failed) … is THE WAY the game SHOULD be played by a CENTRIFUGAL FORCE, at the 5 position in the NBA … if what this player would like most of all is to win an godly number of championships over the course of his career by carrying his team on his back to glory.

    40 years ago … Mr. Russell showed the world how the NBA game works ‘best’ … and, if young Greg is in fact as smart as I think he is … he would do well to emmulate his own game after the greatest player of all-time, with whom he shares so many similar traits & abilities already … much in the same way as a younger Eldrick Woods put the list of a certain “Bear” on his bedroom wall and has yet to take his eyes away from the prize, even to this day … in his quest for sports immortality.

    Become a well-rounded Center, with a polished offensive game … or, the Greatest NBA player of All-Time?

    … understanding that the game, at this position, is about (1) Rebounding, (2) Team Defense, and then (3) efficient Team Offense.

    The choice is up to Greg.

    Hopefully he chooses wisely. 🙂

  7. Kahndor,

    Again valid points but I beg to differ. I personally feel it is silly to engage in player on player comparisons unless they are players who played at the same time in the league and even they with similar teams. How does one value a Bill Russell over Kareem or Shaq? I don’t know and don’t pretend to know. Many players are great in their own right and making it hard to compare who is the greatest. Bill Russell played in a smaller NBA against talent that does not even measure up to the players of today or those who preceded him. But I am not going to hold that against him he is an amazing player who dominated his era.

    What I do have to take umbrage with your statement that a player who chooses to consternate on rebounding and defense is superior to a player who has a sound all-around game. Many people consider Michael Jordan the best player to ever play because he had the ability to dominate on BOTH ends of the floor in addition to being able to rebound very well for a guard. To disregard the offensive aspect of basketball is to ignore the very purpose of the game, which is to score the most points. I am not saying that offense is more important, but rather, that it is equally as important as defense and are rebounding. By your analysis the NBA top 50 should be filled with the likes of Ben Wallace, Dennis Rodman, Maurice Cheeks, Jerry Sloan and Bruce Bowen. Well its not and there is a reason for that.

    Lastly, it is silly to hypothesize an ideal future for Greg Oden without taking into consideration the team he will be playing for. The future of the Blazers lies with Oden, Roy and Aldridge. Many times this season, even with Roy and Aldridge, the Blazers have looked stagnate and lacking on the offensive end of the floor. The Blazers NEED Oden to score points, it’s that simple. No, he does not need to be winning scoring titles but he does need to develop a solid offensive game that ideally allows him to win games for his team. Bill Russell had the luxury of sharing the court during the Celtic dynasty with six players who are in the NBA Hall of Fame. Oden might be lucky if he shares the court with one player that makes it to the Hall. For that reason Oden needs to do more than Russell not just try to emulate him.

  8. Adam,

    1) Take umbrage if you’d like, it will not offend me. 🙂

    2) Q1. Do you know the key to scoring?

    A1. Having possession of the ball.

    Bill Russell is in fact one of the greatest OFFENSIVE players in NBA history.

    PS. Rodman was a great player, in his own right … as was Mo Cheeks.

    PSS. But do not make the mistake of putting Ben Wallace, Jerry Sloan or Bruce Bowen in this same category.

    3) You have it backwards.

    Six players from the great Celtics teams are in the Hall of Fame today because they had the good fortune to share the court with Bill Russell … who, in turn, had an unique insight into HOW the game SHOULD be played at this level of competition in order to DOMINATE … which created the Boston Dynasty.

    (1) Rebounding, (2) Team Defense, and, then (3) Team Offense are the keys to winning NBA games, as well as championships. 🙂

  9. Khandor,

    You make good points, but you seem to leave out the obvious one…you have a man crush on Russell. No doubt he is one of the greatest players of all time, but its just obvious no matter how much you put “IMHO” you will not agree with anyone who does not share the same sentiment as you. Not a problem, I have a man crush on many guys, Oden being one of them. But you just miss some well made points from other commentors and chalk up way to much to Russell.

    Ill see if I can get you a date.

    Good points however.

  10. Juan,

    Ripley’s Believe it or Not … there Ain’t no man crush, here … re: Bill Russell or anyone else.

    If you can … go ahead and prove my perception WRONG. 🙂

    11 NBA Championships. Full Stop.

    Read his books.

    Watch his youtube vid clips.

    Listen to his tapes … and to what others, steeped in the History of the Game, have to say and write about ‘the Man’.

    Start with “Russell Rules” and go forth from there.

    Dem da simple facts, man … nothing but da facts.

  11. Oden is no doubt already studying tapes of many of the greats, but i have to throw another name into the hat: Hakeem Olajuwan. This man could post up, turn and hit 15 foot jumpers as if they were lay ups. Oden could be quite effective if he could learn this skill and then drawdefenses to him, letting Roy or Outlaw cut to the basket for easy baskets. That being said, Oden would be most utilized by remaining close to the basket and crashing the boards for offensive rebounds.

  12. I think it’s correct that defense is more important than offense and rebounding is the most important thing a center does. That said, Bill Russell was not a Ben Wallace. But he wasn’t a Shaq, either. If Greg Oden can develop a game out to about 8 ft and learn to shoot free throws above 70%, he’ll be doing everything we need on that end.

    I agree that the Blazers offense does get stagnant. But the offense will never flow through GO like it does through Tim Duncan. It shouldn’t. GO will post guys up and get lots of rebounds. But what he’ll do better than anyone on the team IMMEDIATELY is affect any play that gets near the rim and force other teams to double team him to keep him off the glass.

    I think Adam’s point is that GO can’t be another Joel (who I have my own man crush on). He needs to be more, especially on the offensive end. That said, in this day and age, I’ll expect him to have a much more extensive offensive game than Bill Russell (or even Wilt) had, in terms of variety, not volume.

    Just ask those guys who played with GO at the Tualatin 24 hour fitness…

  13. Devin,

    Something further to consider is this.

    Energy is not infinite.

    In a human being, Energy is quite finite.

    Energy expended on Offense, by a Center … is Energy NOT expended … either on REBOUNDING or TEAM DEFENSE.

    Read Bill Russell’s book (i.e. Russell Rules).

    There’s a gigantic difference between the words,

    “Doesn’t have an extensive offensive game”;


    “Doesn’t NEED an extensive offensive game.”

    It’s about the Winning. 🙂

    Just My 2 Cents.

  14. Khandor,

    Now you just sound like you want to put your fingers in him….please stop.

  15. Juan shut up

  16. Juan, that sounds a little gross. Actually, it sounds alot gross.

    Khandor, I haven’t read Bill Russell’s book, but see your point. However, a Ben Wallace-type center doesn’t put any pressure on the other team when Wallace’s team has the ball. You have to put out energy on offense in order to: a) make the other team tired (see Rip Hamilton or Dwight Howard), b) get the other team’s post players in foul trouble (Shaq), and c) make it impossible for people to double-team our scorers like LMA and Roy.

    I hope that Oden puts out more energy defensively than offensively. That said, I would like to be able to pound a team inside for 16 pts a game. It’s also true that Bill Russell may have had a much wider array of offensive skills than we know and never had to use them en route to winning all those championships. Here are the offensive moves I want Greg Oden to have: tip dunk, put-back dunk, left handed dunk, right handed dunk, pump-fake then two handed dunk, and the Odenizer (where Greg dunks so hard his opponent explodes in a cloud of pink mist.

  17. Devin good points but in addition to those moves I feel that Oden must develop some form of a mid-range game or the Blazers offense will never truly flow like it should. A center (like Parrish) that can hit, even with mild consistency, the mid-ranger jumper creates two distinct advantages.

    First, if a center is only an offensive threat 3ft. from the basket that is where he is going to play all game. However, this clogs the middle making the ability for his teammates to drive to the hole much harder. Case in point, Kobe and Shaq. Now no one would suggest that they weren’t a good pair but one of the many things that lead to their break up was Kobe perceived inability to go to the rim on a regular base because Shaq has camped down there. Brandon Roy has an uncanny ability (and quite frankly a unexplainable ability) to get to the hole whenever he wants. That becomes more difficult if Oden is clogging up the middle. However, unlike Kobe, Roy has not developed a jump shot that is deadly from all places on the court. If Roy has a weakness it is his jump shot which makes his ability to move, especially to the rim, very important.

    Secondly, a big man who can hit a mid-ranger jumper also gives a team the distinct advantage of drawing out defenders from under the basket. This has the added affect on 1.) clearing out the middle (previous point) and 2.) allowing the defenses likely best shot blocker to be out of position. Again, I point to Shaq, but this time I use him to illustrate his problems he had with Arvydas Sabonis. Sabonis would give the Lakers and, Shaq specifically, fits when he would sit out on the 3pt line (actually it was weird he would always hit that flat ass shot just a foot inside the 3pt line, I always wondered why he did not just step back a foot and get a 3). Sabonis ability to hit that shot gave the Blazers a great advantage on the offensive end that lead to a lot of easy lay-ups with out the presence of Shaq under the basket.

    Again, I don’t expect Oden to become Glen Rice from the outside but I also don’t think it will be in the Blazers best interest to have him park under the basket, that is unless we get Larry Bird out of retirement.

  18. Adam (sincere thanks) & Devin,

    I encourage you to take a closer look at Bill Russell’s career stats:

    G FG% FT% Rebs RPG Asts APG Pts PPG
    963 .440 .561 21,620 22.5 4,100 4.3 14,522 15.1

    His focus was on Rebounding & Team Defense … but he also averaged 15.1 PPG.

    Bill Russell was not a Ben Wallace type player.

    On offense, Bill Russell could play effectively away from the basket … in the High (or the Mid) Post.

    Your team does not DOMINATE the game the way those Celtics teams … winning close game after close game the way those Boston teams did without having a versatile Center at the Heart of the action on D as well as on O.

    But … what I’m talking about here … is that if that Center trul understands how a CENTRIFUGAL FORCE is supposed to function on a basketball court then he knows that THE WAY to dominate the game is focussing on Rebounding & Team Defense … while letting his individual offense take care of itself … seamlessly within the TEAM CONCEPT.

    Read the book, “Russell Rules” … and pay particular attention to the things Bill has to say about something as esoteric as the power & function of “One’s (fully developed) Imagination” … and his “radical” thoughts on “Ultimate Selfishness”.

    IMO these are not the musings of a Ben Wallace type … but the wisdom of a man who … for example … saw greatness lurking in Scot Pippen well before the rest of the known basketball world was able to do the same.

    11 NBA championships … including 1 as a Player/Coach.

    The Man was a genius on the basketball court … who “thought outside of teh box” … and a true pioneer.

    What I have for Bill Russell is R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

  19. Btw … I am absolutely thrilled with Portland’s player personnel, looking toward next year.

    Key players are Travis Outlaw (slasher) and Martel Webster (shooter) … who are terrific bookend wings, IMHO … in conjunction with Brandon Roy (PG, decision-maker), LaMarcus Aldridge (PF, Kevin McHale-type) & the Norse God (C, Bill Russell-type).

    That line-up, right there … if Oden focuses his attention on Rebounding & Team Defense … is the type of 5-Man Unit capable of winning a string of NBA championships one day.

    Hopefully Greg Oden, Nate McMillan & Kevin Pritchard … realize the opportunity that lays before them.

  20. Adam, you ignorant slut. The only mid range game I want from GO is a skyhook. You want a big man who can step out and hit a jumper? How about LMA? Frye? Raef? Or maybe you just want Sheed back? That’s what kills our rebounding.

    Your Kobe Shaq point is also wrong as kobe got to the rack all the time and shot about a billion free throws.

    And Ben Franklin was an idiot.

  21. Ok a few points here so I will be the voice of reason.

    1. Yes I was out of line, Khandor sorry, but man you just kill me. It is obvious you are a Celtics fan (which is not good, but I can respect it) at the same time you can’t let your fanhood blind your ability to see reason in arguments. Bill Russell is always a top 2 in best centers. However, that does not mean every player who is a center must mold his game after him. Some centers (like Shaq) are just plain bangers, some (like The Cheif) have more of an all aroud game. To try to take a player like Oden and say he should be JUST like Russell is wrong. Let me be clear, this DOES NOT MEAN RUSSELL IS BAD, it means Russell’s game does not fit into the mold of that of Oden.

    2. The Blazers have a unique ability next year to have their 5 and 4 positon mirrior each other perfectly from the first to the second unit. With Oden killing it on the boards, defense, and being a stud down low that allows LMA to drift outside and use his BEST offensive weapon the jumper. LMA has done a good job to develop his back to the basket game this year because Nate knows that a well rounded big man is better than a one tool player. That being said Oden will need to develop his mid jumper (I am talking 10 feet here) that way he has that all around game. Again, his bread and butter is down low, but it never hurts to have a big man who can spread the floor (Sabas). If Roy gets hot, and we know he does, his go to move is cut to the basket, if Oden can bring his guy out with a consistant jumper from 10 feet then Roy can operate as needed. To finish off this point our second unit of Frye and Pryz is a great compliment to the first unit. Pryz has no mid game to speak of, but he can BANG (look at his rebound the last few games) and Frye is a mid range jumper guy. This allows our offense to not drastically change from unit to unit. And it allows for foul trouble to not be as bad since the players can be interchangable.

    3. Roy is not, and will not be a PG. He is a Scottie like player. What I see happening is this: Rudy comes over next year and assumes the 2G role after a year or work. This will move Roy to the 3 (which we lack right now) and allows Pritchard the ability to throw the money at a big time PG. That unit is better then spending money on a 3 and a PG…its a tough unit to beat.

    4. All this BS about not trying to be an offensive player is just a cover for the one minor flaw in Russell’s game. What legitmiate, big time player would ever willingly slack, or play below his ability on one end of the court? NONE WOULD, not even Russell. The fact is that Russell did not have the polished offensive game, 15 PPG is not great, its not bad, but its not great. Khandor, I know this is tough to take, but its ok, you can handle it. He simply made an excuse for his lack of superior offensive numbers.

    5. Devin, don’t call people sluts others might take offense.

  22. I should make very clear that I wasn’t calling Bill Russell a Ben Wallace type player – I was using Wallace as an extreme example of Khandor’s point regarding defensive effort and rebounding combined with NO offensive game.

    I agree that GO’s dominance is most essential on the defensive end and grabbing boards.

    Notice that in my post above, I say I’d like to see 16pts out of GO per game. Sounds like Russell was in the same place.

  23. Juan,

    1) No, I’m not a Celtics fan. No, I do not think EVERY big man SHOULD play like Bill Russell … only those like Greg Oden who have similar gifts as Russell was blessed with. IMO, it’s a shame when these types of young do not receive the proper guidance it takes early in their careers to develop the way Russell did, with an eye on the prize, at all times. DOMINANCE is not a viable option for all those who play the Center position in the NBA … only a select few like Russell and Oden.

    3) It’s okay that you disagree about Roy. 🙂

    4) re: What legitmiate, big time player would ever willingly slack, or play below his ability on one end of the court? NONE WOULD, not even Russell.

    Part of genius in Life is the ability to see and THEN execute what others cannot fathom in the first place.

    Because YOU (and others) cannot possibly do what Russell did … i.e. focus his attention, in this unique way, on Rebounding & Team Defense … does not mean that Russell didn’t do exactly what he claims he was doing when he played in the NBA. Genius like his is rarely understand … that’s what makes it genius to begin with. 🙂


    In Peace, Victory & Excellence.

  24. oops … should read as:

    genius like his is rarely understood …


  25. You missed number 2….

  26. No problem.

    2) With Oden and Roy on the court together … Oden SHOULD never leave the Low Post.

    When Roy plays as the PG for Portland (with Martell & Travis on his flanks, and LaMarcus at the 4 position) … it is impossible to keep Brandon out of the lane on the bounce … and, if Greg is taught to slide to the weakside block on all dribble penetration, each foray into the paint by Roy will finish in one of 4 ways:

    1) when Oden’s man helps … with a lay-off pass or a lob dunk;
    2) when Oden’s man helps … and Roy misses his own shot attempt … an Oden put-back dunk;
    3) when Oden’s man stays home … a Roy made FG (layup, finger roll, tear-drop, dunk, or Pull-up J;
    4) when Oden’s man stays home … and one of the other 3 defenders help on the dribble penetration … a kick-out pass, “Catch & Shoot” (3 or 2) by Mebster, Outlaw (BEWARE the shot fake, slash & massive dunk) or Aldridge.

    When Roy is not on the floor together with Oden … Greg should feel free to slide into the High Post … from where (a) he is a solid Free Throw shooter, and (b) an outstanding passer … just like Russell was for the Celtics (4.3 APG) … allowing his 4 teammates to run the Blazers offense THROUGH his capable hands.

    (if Oden’s defender sags off him … he can make the FT Line shot all day … if Oden’s defender comes out to challenge him … he can pass to cutters for layups OR take his man off the dribble (just like Russell could from the High Post … using 1 hard dribble and an extended layup, either left or right, for a bucket or a foul or an AND1 … cause Oden is super l o n g … just like Russell)

    There you go, my friend.


    In Peace, Victory & Excellence.

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