Jabari Parker's perseverance through challenging homecoming proved to be a family affair

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

CHICAGO -- As a former first-round pick, Sonny Parker spent six years in the NBA with the Warriors and then committed to a lifetime of community service in his native Chicago.

He watched his son, Jabari, rack up multiple honors as one of the most decorated high school basketball players in Illinois' rich history, winning two Mr. Basketball awards and four state championships at Simeon High School.

He watched Jabari earn a scholarship to Duke and become the No. 2 overall pick by the Bucks in 2014, 15 slots higher and 38 years later than him.

But it hasn't been all highs. Sonny also has watched Jabari rehabilitate after two surgeries to repair torn ACLs. And Jabari's latest test came in the form of a homecoming gone wrong.

Sonny was there last July when the Bulls introduced Jabari at the United Center as their premier offseason acquisition on a sparkling summer day. And Sonny was at the building again Saturday night, watching his son throw down six dunks and score 20 points with six assists to lead the Wizards past his hometown Bulls.

The performance came a mere three days after a trade ended the failed experiment, which included coach Jim Boylen benching Jabari in mid-December for what Boylen cited as poor practice habits and lack of defensive effort.


"I couldn't do it," Sonny said of not playing. "It would've got to me personally."

It did at times to Jabari as well. While he always supported his teammates, he had moments where he didn't join pregame or halftime layup lines when he fell out of the rotation. But his public comments remained on the high road.

And he eventually re-entered Boylen's rotation before last Wednesday's trade.

"We talked a lot about being professional, being a good teammate, watching your body language, cheering for your team. It was hard for him. This was the first time in his life that he wasn't playing," Sonny said. "But he persevered through it. He had a great attitude. He never said anything negative or bad toward his teammates or his coach or his organization."


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