At first glance, Rick Carlisle and Chandler Parsons don't have much in common. Carlisle is a 56-year-old family man who lives peacefully in Dallas when not working, playing the piano and flying single-engine airplanes in his free time. Parsons is 27, with a glamour-filled playboy lifestyle, a supermodel girlfriend, a side gig as a model and an affinity for vodka Red Bulls.
Their paths crossed, of course, two summers ago, when the Dallas Mavericks stole Parsons away from the Houston Rockets on a three-year, $46-million deal. Carlisle quickly assumed the role of Mr. Miyagi, teaching a brash student how to play the game through sometimes mysterious methods.
The two butted heads again on Wednesday, with Carlisle sitting Parsons for the final six minutes of the Mavericks' 93-90 loss to the Miami Heat until he reinserted him as a defensive substitution with 26 seconds to play -- something Parsons called "definitely strange" in an interview with ESPN Dallas.
Here's a complete timeline of the relationship between Parsons and Carlisle since the former arrived in Dallas.
Oct. 11: Carlisle calls Parsons overweight
In September, on the first day of training camp, Carlisle was asked about Parsons' weight gain and said, "One man's bulking up is another man's not quite in shape yet." Shortly after preseason games began, Carlisle did it again. It wasn't until a preseason loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, though, that Carlisle really called Parsons out.
"He looked tired out there tonight to me, and his shot is short," Carlisle said at the time. "He's working on losing some weight. He's a little bit heavier than he's been. He's up over 230, and we want to see him get down to at least 225. That's a work in progress, and tonight's one of those nights where I think the extra weight was a hindrance."
Oct. 12: Parsons Instagrams his abs and Carlisle apologizes
Parsons had respectfully disagreed with his coach's assessment to the media already, saying the two of them "kind of go at it everyday." The day after Carlisle's comments, Parsons passive-aggressively escalated the situation by posting this Instagram.
Later that day, Carlisle apologized for his comments.
"It was unfair and inappropriate to single out Chandler Parsons after the game Friday night," Carlisle said. "I have apologized to him and the entire team for this error in judgment. Not only is Chandler Parsons one of our best players, he is also one of our hardest working players and the kind of high character person we strive to bring to our city and franchise."
At the time, we opined how this was such a bizarre situation to open up Parsons' Mavericks career, especially because Carlisle rarely, if ever, makes public apologies like that one.
With Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo dominating Mavericks headlines for a majority of the season, Parsons mostly takes a back seat. He had some very strong stretches, and at one point, we even wrote that Dallas should make him the number one option. That proved to be a touch premature and Parsons went down with an injury shortly thereafter that would eventually require surgery.
April 29: Parsons calls for a bigger role next year
At exit interviews, Parsons says this: "I'm going into my prime; I think I'm ready. This year was more of a year to get comfortable and get my feet wet. I had some big games. Next year I hope for a much bigger role. I want the ball in my hands. I want good players around me."
Parsons also joked that he hopefully "wouldn't be overweight" coming into next training camp.
May 1: Parsons undergoes surgery
The mysterious procedure is eventually revealed as a "hybrid microfracture procedure" on a non-weight bearing part of his knee.
Nov. 6: Carlisle tries Parsons' experiment
Dealing with heavy minutes restrictions, Parsons suggests that he play only the second half, not the first. The Mavericks are blown out at home by the Charlotte Hornets, which Parsons says, "It's almost like the basketball gods said, 'here you go for that dumbass idea.' It was worth a shot."
Carlisle said afterwards that "you can't blame the loss that" experiment, and complimented Parsons' willingness to sacrifice his starting spot to try and win games the next day in practice.
Jan. 19: Parsons continues to sit in close games
In an overtime win against the Boston Celtics, Parsons sat for much of the fourth quarter before Raymond Felton was injured on one of the final plays of the game and Carlisle had to go with his star forward during the extra period.
"We don't have any set finishing lineup," Carlisle said at the time. "I think it's unfair to say, ‘Hey, Parsons is definitely a closer,' when he's really not 100 percent there yet. And tonight, he was in there a lot at the end. He was in there in our defensive rotation when we took Dirk out."
Parsons, unsurprisingly, disagreed.
"Of course, I want to be out there. I want to play," Parsons said. "It's the most exciting part of the game, the most important part of the game. Nothing's unconditional. I'm not saying every game I deserve to be out there at the end of the game, but obviously as a competitor and a player, you want to be out there and you want to play when it matters in crunch time."
Jan. 24: Carlisle criticizes Parsons' poor plus-minus
Parsons scores a game-high 31 points and records a game-worst minus-30 in the Mavericks' 115-104 loss to the Houston Rockets. Afterwards, Carlisle said this.
"There's a lot more to the game than just putting the ball in the basket, obviously," Carlisle told ESPN Dallas. "If a guy scores 31 points and we're minus-30, I've got to coach him better in other areas. I think it's pretty clear, because if you're scoring that many points, there must be other holes that we've got to fill."
Feb. 2: Carlisle says Parsons didn't beat him in ping pong
Parsons bragged that he beat Carlisle in a game of ping pong, which he refuted.
"He's never beaten me in ping pong," Carlisle told ESPN Dallas' MacMahon. "He has a funky game, and he has an illegal serve, which carries him. Look, if he's not going to play by the rules, he'll be able to overachieve with an inferior game."
Feb. 3: Parsons is benched late once again
On Wednesday, Carlisle took Parsons out with 6:05 left on the clock, putting in Raymond Felton instead. He didn't return until a defensive substitution with 18 seconds were left in the game and the Mavericks were down 92-87.
"His struggles from basically the beginning of the second quarter on," Carlisle said. "We just needed quickness and playmaking in there, so I decided to go with Ray (Felton). I thought Ray did a very good job, help bring us back almost there. ... Chandler had a rough two or three quarters, but he'll bounce back."
Parsons, of course, didn't think his play this season as a whole warranted being benched. The Mavericks see him as a big part of their future, after all, but Carlisle's still yanking him in and out of the closing lineups.
"It's definitely strange to me, especially after how I've been playing," Parsons told MacMahon. "It's definitely different, but every game calls for something different. You can't have it every night. There's going to be off nights, but I feel like I've played well enough to be in at the end of games."
* * *
This isn't Monta Ellis or Rajon Rondo repeating itself in 2016, fortunately. Parsons is media savvy and won't publicly call out his coach. Carlisle keeps indicating that things will change as Parsons gets healthier and healthier, and that this is still part of his rehab process. And make no mistake: the two do have a lot of mutual respect for each other.
But this probably won't be the last time you hear of the dynamics of the relationship between these two, whether something happens again this season or if it's not until the offseason.