Praying for Parks
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 6, 2013 - 12:00am

Seven-time PBA Best Import awardee Bobby Parks has lost at least 50 pounds in his fierce battle against lung cancer but isn’t giving up hope of recovering. He’s been confined at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City since Jan. 31. Parks is now in a private room after a long stay in the Intensive Care Unit.

Parks’ wife Jasmine has been at his side throughout the ordeal. There are plans to move Parks out of St. Luke’s and into his home as soon as his family is able to procure a hospital bed. A philanthropic taipan has offered to pay for Parks’ medical bills while a sports official from a large conglomerate said he will try to get a bed from the hospital which his family owns.  The outpouring of support for Parks is heartwarming. A big businessman offered to fly Parks to Singapore for specialized cancer treatment only at the moment, the former Memphis State star is unable to travel.

Parks, 51, was initially diagnosed to be afflicted with laryngeal cancer a few years back but won that battle. The cancer, however, recurred in the lungs and now, Parks is in for a tougher fight.

In his hospital bed, Parks is fed through a tube in his nose and still unable to speak. But there are positive signs of recovery. Now, he is able to sit up for about an hour in a chair. He is conscious and recognizes his visitors. His legs and feet are swollen in an edema condition. Last Sunday night, Parks watched the PBA contest between Rain Or Shine and Barangay Ginebra from his bed and appeared to be fully aware of what went on in the game. I visited Parks at that time and drew a smile when I promised to bring over his picture in an Atlanta Hawks uniform I stumbled on in a book entitled “Inside Basketball: From the Playgrounds to the NBA” by Mike Decourcy.

Parks never got to play in the NBA regular season but suited up for Atlanta in the 1984-85 preseason. He was the Hawks’ third round pick in the 1984 draft. In the picture, Parks is shown defending New York Knicks’ star Bernard King with Hawks teammates Glenn (Doc) Rivers and Stewart Granger. Parks played as an import in France before landing in the PBA with San Miguel Beer in 1987. He wound up seeing action in 13 PBA seasons, compiling 8,955 points in 221 games for a 40.5 clip. Parks is one of only five imports to average at least 40 a game in the PBA. The others are Billy Ray Bates, Lew Massey, Larry McNeill and Norman Black.

After his playing career, Parks coached Spring Cooking Oil in the NBL and in Brunei. He later became an assistant coach with San Miguel Beer in the PBA and head coach of the San Miguel team in the ABL. Last year, Parks piloted the Beermen to the ABL finals. This year, San Miguel is out to win its first ABL title for Parks who has relinquished the head coaching job to Leo Austria.

Parks has four children – Quincy, 31, Ray-Ray, 20, Celine Ira, 17 and Montell, 12. His son Ray-Ray is a National University stalwart and tipped to eventually become a star in the PBA. 

* * * *

After failing to enter the Olympic calendar for the 2012 and 2016 Games, squash is back in contention for the 2020 edition but it faces a severe challenge as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will choose only one sport to add to the lineup. Aside from squash, the other sports under consideration are wrestling, baseball, softball, karate, roller sports, sportclimbing, wakeboarding and wushu. In May in St. Petersburg, the IOC Executive Board will choose three from the list to endorse for final decision by the Congress in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7-10.

The World Squash Federation, made up of 144 member countries, recently launched an on-line campaign to build more support for the squash bid. Since starting the campaign on Facebook and YouTube last December, over 100,000 views have been registered. Two-time world champion Nick Matthew said, “We want to demonstrate to the IOC the global popularity and reach of squash and I’m sure this on-line call to action will help to do this.”

Squash is played by over 20 million males and females in 175 countries. The ladies world champion is an Asian who has reigned since 2005. Malaysia’s Nicol David, 29, is the undisputed squash queen and is a seven-time Women’s International Squash Players Association Player of the Year awardee. During a 13-month period from March 2006 to April 2007, the 5-4, 110-pound David won 51 consecutive matches.

An initiative to back squash’s bid was recently announced by former world champion Peter Nicol, 39, and former world contender Tim Garner, 42, who will play seven matches in seven continents in seven days covering over 40,000 miles and 70 hours of flight time starting April 13 at the Falklands in Antartica. They will also play in Santiago, Chile, on April 14, Sydney on April 16, Kuala Lumpur on April 17, Cairo on April 18, London on April 19 and New York on April 20. The swing aims to portray squash’s popularity around the globe.

ATLANTA HAWKS BERNARD KING BEST IMPORT BILLY RAY BATES BOBBY PARKS PARKS SAN MIGUEL SAN MIGUEL BEER SQUASH ST. LUKE
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