BY WAYLON GALVEZ
Parks, who was diagnosed several years ago with laryngeal cancer that spread to his lungs, played 12 seasons in Asia’s first professional league, first with San Miguel Beer in 1987 and then with Shell where he had his memorable stint as an import.
Prior to his death, the 6-foor-5 Parks was still active in basketball as coach of the San Miguel Beermen, which finished second overall in the previous ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) to the Indonesia Warriors. He also served as consultant with Petron Blaze in the past.
Parks was originally tabbed by the Atlanta Hawks in the third round of the 1984 NBA Rookie Draft. He briefly played for the Hawks in the pre-season tournament but was not able to make the cut at the start of the regular season.
After playing in France, Parks went to the Philippines in 1987 where he had a legendary career with Shell alongside Benjie Paras and Ronnie Magsanoc, helping the former PBA franchise to five conference championships.
As one of the top imports to ever play in the PBA, Parks, who had memorable battles against great reinforcement like Tony Harris, Kenny Travis, Ken Redfield, and Sean Chambers, collected more than 9,000 points, 3,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists.
The death of Parks, who returned to the country in 2010, came as shock in local basketball as PBA coaches, as well as players paid tribute to the native of Grand Junction, Tennessee who played college ball at Memphis State University.
“Phil Bball has lost a great man. RIP Bobby Parks,” Gilas Pilipinas II coach Chot Reyes posted on his Twitter account. “More than his 7 Best Import Awards Bobby brought in an un import-like work ethic, in contrast to d ‘pa-star’ ways of most imports then &now.”
“Just heard the news. Absolutely crushed that Bobby Parks passed away. Loved him as a player and as a man. Great competitor. Will miss him.
“News of the passing of PBA Hall of Fame import Bobby Parks after battling laryngeal cancer spread on Saturday, leaving a trail of sadness in the Philippine basketball community,” said San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone also on Twitter.
“#RIPBobbyParksSr prayers 2 da parks family! You will b missed COACH! #SMBfambam,” was Asi Taulava’s post on the popular social networking website. Taulava is a member of San Miguel Beermen in the ABL.
Parks is survived by family members that include Ray Parks Jr., who plays for the National University Bulldogs. His remains lie in state at the Heritage in Taguig City. Schedule of his funeral will be announced later by family members.