WITH today’s batch of PBA imports getting in the news for the wrong reasons, one can’t help but look back at the way the late Bobby Parks conducted himself during the time when he was the toast of Asia’s first pro league.
Former opponents of the only man to win the Best Import award seven times are the first to attest on how consummate a player Parks was in his 12-years in the PBA.
Humble, a workhorse, and light-hearted, these are just some of the words ex-teammates and rivals used to describe the 51-year-old Parks, who succumbed to cancer on Black Saturday.
Sonny Cabatu, one of the league toughies during his heyday and among the big men who used to defend Parks, related to Spin.ph how he would use dirty tricks to get into the nerve of the American import, but to no avail.
“Kahit anong gawin ko dun dati, hindi nagre-reklamo yun. Sinisiko ko, sinasaktan ko. Pero walang reklamo,” recalled Cabatu, who played against Parks in the late 80s and early 90s.
“Kung yung mga import siguro ngayon yun, sinakal na ko.”
And to his surprise, Cabatu even became among Parks' closest friends outside of the court.
“Sa sobrang dami ko ngang pananakit sa kanya, nakunsensya ako. Kasi sa kabila ng lahat, ginawa pa niya akong isang matalik na kaibigan,” added Cabatu.
Dante Gonzalgo also played against Parks especially at the height of the Ginebra-Shell rivaly, although he got the chance to have Bobby as a teammate when he reinforced Anejo during the PBA-IBA World Challenge Invitationals in 1988.
During the pocket tournament where visiting teams from Australia saw action, Parks teamed up with Gonzalgo to give coach Robert Jaworski and Anejo the championship.
“Ang bait ni Bobby, wala akong masabi sa kanya. Talagang professional siyang mag-laro. Wala kang madidinig na reklamo sa kanya,” said Gonzalgo.
“Pakiramdam ko nga noon parang hindi siya import kung umasta. Parang kahit ang galing niya, hindi niya pinapa-akyat sa ulo niya yun,” added the Ginebra legend known as the 'Bicol Express.'
Gonzalgo also lauded Parks’ soft spot for the Philippines – who twice married a Filipina and stayed in the country for good until his death.
“Kung iba yun after ng PBA career, sisibat na,” said Gonzalgo in a long-distance call to Spin.ph from his native Sorsogon.
Crispa Redmanizer legend Atoy Co describes Parks as an import who is a true role model for the youth and future basketball stars.
“Bilang player, wala akong masasabi dyan. One hundred percent palagi kung maglaro, wala kang intriga na madidinig sa kanya. Wala siyang bad words against his teammates o kahit kanino,” said Co of the late
“Isang hindi ko malimutan diyan was nung una niya akong nilapitan, siya pa ang bumaba para magpakilala sa akin, may iba kasi lalo na yung ibang imports tingin sa atin, parang ‘sino ka ba?’ Si Bobby napakagalang,” added Co.
Incidentally, Parks came into the league during Co’s final season in the league.
Expressions of sympathy immediately flooded the various social networking sites when news of the death of the Grand Junction, Tennessee native came out, even at a time when most Filipinos are still on vacation.
“Bobby Parks will never be forgotten. Ang laki ng kontribusyon niya sa Philippine basketball,” Cabatu stressed.
“Sana lang kahit `yung mga banyaga na darating malaman `yung ugali niya at kung paano siya maikitungo at maglaro sa PBA.”