Michael Parker has quietly compiled impressive numbers throughout his pro basketball career in Japan.
The veteran forward’s success speaks for itself.
He won four scoring titles in the bj-league, including a league-record 27.3 points per game in the 2010-11 season, establishing himself as a prolific point producer in a bygone era. This included a 53-point game on Nov. 7, 2010, the now-defunct circuit’s record that was only surpassed by Le’Bryan Nash’s 54-point output in a February 2016 game.
Last weekend, Parker added to his growing legacy as one of the legends of the game here. He surpassed the 10,000-point milestone in regular-season games.
It’s a testament to his longevity, hard work and all-around talents.
Parker is like a motor on the court. He’s always moving, always contributing, always demonstrating that he’s a vital component for his team.
The Chiba Jets Funabashi star doesn’t need to proclaim his greatness or rattle off a list of accomplishments to prove that he deserves greater acclaim for his pro career.
For Parker, there’s always another game to play, another win to chase after.
However, in a Tuesday interview with The Japan Times the 35-year-old admitted he’s proud of scoring 10,000 points and of the career he’s put together for the Rizing Fukuoka, Shimane Susanoo Magic, Wakayama Trians and Toyota Motors Alvark in the bj-league and NBL, and now for the Jets.
“It’s a big accomplishment, but it is also shared with the people who helped me get here,” said Parker, who hails from Washington, D.C.
He arrived in Japan several weeks after the start of the 2007-08 season and made an immediate impact for the expansion Rizing, who made an improbable run to the bj-league’s Final Four.
Parker, an alum of NAIA school Evergreen (Washington) State, paid tribute to several of his coaches for helping guide him to success.
“Firstly, (former Fukuoka) coach (John) Neumann who found me and gave me a chance to come to Japan and play,” he said. “I also have to give coach Zeljko (Pavlicevic, his Shimane and Wakayama mentor) a lot of credit because he turned me from a scorer to a real all-around player. With the knowledge he gave me, it allowed me to continue to play at a high level for way longer.
“I only worked with coach (Don) Beck for a season (with the Alvark) but I learned so much about team play, confidence and carving out your own path in basketball as well as in life.”
Parker joined the Jets before the B. League’s inaugural season tipped off and has been a good fit. He’s a constant threat for a double-double every game. What’s more, since his Rizing days, Parker has consistently been a top 10 finisher in rebounds, steals and blocks, bold reminders of his ability and persistent effectiveness.
“My current coach, (Atsushi) Ono is also great for me,” he said of the Jets bench boss. “We have a great understanding of each other and he is making it so fun and easy to keep playing.”
Parker recognizes dedication to his craft has played a pivotal role in his career.
“Of course it takes a lot of hard work and a little luck to keep up playing at a high level for such a long time,” said Parker, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block on Saturday in the Jets’ season-opening, 86-70 victory over the host Nishinomiya Storks.
Does Parker feel he’s been overshadowed by other hoop standouts in Japan?
“Its not for me to say if I’m overlooked as one of the best ever in Japanese basketball,” the gifted leaper said. “I feel like I am lucky to play against and compete against the best of all time here in Japan.
“Coming from a small school and coming here on an expansion bj-league team I’m just happy that I was able to play with the biggest teams and now I am on one of the best and most followed teams in Japan.
“To me, that journey is more satisfying than individual accomplishments.”
On Saturday, at the season opener in Hyogo Prefecture, Parker was aware he was closing in on 10,000 points, but it wasn’t widely publicized beforehand.
“It was the Storks’ first game in division one (B1), so not many fans knew what was going on,” said Parker, who played in the now-defunct International Basketball League before Neumann brought him to Fukuoka. “Me and my team knew. The best thing I saw was a longtime fan had a throwback jersey of mine when I scored 5,000 for Shimane and to see that and then get 10,000 it was really fun.”
Regarding the milestone scoring play, he described it this way: “It was on a lob from (Yuki) Togashi. When I scored I know it broke 10, 000, but we still had the rest of the game to play so we had to focus on the win.”
There are still 58 games to play this season for Parker and the Jets.
He’ll put the aforementioned accomplishment behind him, but won’t hesitate to shower praise on those who’ve made his career meaningful to him.
“I just want to say thank you to all the players I played with and all the coaches I played under,” Parker said. “Also thank you to all the franchises I have played for. Finally, thank you to all the fans who have supported me through the years.”
Four B1 teams — the Jets, Alvark, Albirex and Hannaryz — survived the opening weekend with perfect records intact. Ten top-flight teams are 1-1, while four are 0-2.
In B2, six teams — the Northern Happinets, Robots, Fighting Eagles, Samuraiz, Brave Warriors and Rizing Zephyr — are 2-0. Six second-division squads are 1-1 and the other sextet are winless.
A look ahead
For Week 2 of the new season, here are the B1 series that commence on Saturday: Mikawa vs. Osaka, Nagoya vs. Ryukyu, Chiba vs. Kyoto, Shimane vs. Tochigi, Shibuya vs. San-en, Toyama vs. Nishinomiya and Shiga vs. Kawasaki. On Sunday, the Hokkaido-Yokohama series begins, while Tokyo vs. Niigata tips off on Monday.
In the second division, Kanazawa meets visiting Sendai on Friday to kick off their series. A day later, the lid-lifters are Tokyo vs. Akita, Kumamoto vs. Ibaraki, Iwate vs. Hiroshima, Yamagata vs. Fukuoka, Shinshu vs. Nara, Nagoya vs. Ehime, Fukushima vs. Kagawa and Gunma vs. Aomori.