THERE’S a whole generation of PBA fans who unfortunately did not see or experience the brilliance of the late Bobby Parks, who passed away this week.
It was thrilling to recount Parks’ career when I was interviewed by Sports Pilipinas, the weekly morning sports show on GMA News TV that was doing a tribute this weekend. But as I recounted who the man and the player was, I realized that hundreds of young new fans of the PBA never saw how good Parks was and how he stood out among the guest players of his time.
In the 1980s and ’90s, Parks was a seven-time Best Import awardee and a scintillating performer night in and night out. He was in the same mold as Norman Black and Sean Chambers, that rare import who gave his utmost, his more than 100 percent in every game.
Scoring 50 points or more was not a problem for Parks who found ways to hit the basket even if defenses tried to double-team or bang him. He just had too many moves and was too smooth to be contained by even the most unforgiving defenses.
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But more than the basketball skills, the Philippine basketball community is saddened by Parks’ demise because he was also such a gentleman off the court. He had a smile for almost everyone who approached him.
From my experience, I could interview him for radio or TV and he would answer each question patiently. You knew that he had answered many of the questions before no matter how you tried to ask it differently. But he made you feel at home in his presence and that it was all right to ask the question again.
Parks had no controversies attached to his career unless there’s something I may have forgotten over the years. But really, there’s nothing that smeared his name.
Even later on, when he was watching his son Ray play for National University or when he was helping the San Miguel teams in the PBA and the Asean Basketball League, Parks was still the same smiling, friendly chap that we had interviewed in the PBA.
His passion for the game, kind demeanor and that enigmatic smile that endeared him to all of us never faded.
That’s why the pain of his death at such a young middle age is difficult to come to terms with.
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There will never be another Bobby Parks but I am hopeful that another import will come along with the same fine qualities that Parks shared with us.
PBA commissioner Chito Salud did the right thing when he named the Best Import award for Parks.
Parks will be a fitting standard to measure all future PBA guest players.
There will still be lemons and bad eggs among the imports down the road, but if even just one can play with the same fire and intensity of Parks and endear himself to Filipino fans, then he will be the consummate professional and could be worthy of the award named after a truly great import.