Two weeks ago, former Citigroup chairman Dick Parsons was named interim CEO of the LA Clippers, following the broadcasting of some unintelligible racist rambling that were somehow supposed to be foreplay by its owner, Donald Sterling. Over at Deadspin today, you will find a long investigative piece on Parsons’s career. It has nothing to do with his time at Citi, or at Time Warner, or at Dime Savings Bank of New York, or Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler before that.
Instead, it’s about his college basketball career at the University of Hawaii. The issue is that while Parons has spoken extensively over the years about his days on the court, it appears that there are no records of anyone with his name playing basketball at the school during his time there, nor do any of the players remember him, making statements by Parsons like, “I did okay in the fall semester, ’cause there was basketball, right?” and ” The basketball team became my extended family and my friends” slightly troubling, as are comments about how his grades suffered because he was too busy working and playing basketball, in addition to the many past profiles that talk about his days on the team.
All of this might lead one (or many) to conclude that, at least when it comes to this subject, Dick Parsons is a pathological liar (or, for unclear reasons, there is a vast Hawaiian conspiracy to bury Parsons’s basketball career). If you’re not ready to write the guy off, though, and personally, we are not, there seem to be some obvious and, we might add, entirely believable explanations that clear everything up.
1. Parsons was talking about playing intramural basketball. (Not one of the quotes attributed to him use the word “varsity.”)
2. He talks about the team being like family, and they were, but it’s not because they all played the same roles with regard to who threw the ball and who put it in the net; he was the mascot.
3. This one might sound desperate but it could easily be true: he was talking about his fantasy basketball league, okay? Put this in your record books: little known fact, fantasy leagues originated at the University of Hawaii in the 60s. It was a crude, early day version but a version nonetheless. His roommate did the scoring and the only stats that counted were points and the length of your shorts.