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David Robinson (basketball)

David Maurice Robinson (born ) is a retired American NBA basketball player, who is often considered one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. Based on his prior service as an officer in the United States Navy, Robinson earned the nickname "The Admiral". He along with Tim Duncan were known by the nickname "The Twin Towers".

Early life

David Robinson was born in Key West, Florida; the second child of Ambrose and Freda Robinson. Since Robinson's father was in the Navy, the family moved many times. After his father retired from the Navy, the family settled in Woodbridge, Virginia where Robinson excelled in school and in most sports except basketball. He was 5 feet, 9 inches tall in junior high school so he tried basketball, but he soon quit. Robinson attended Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., where Robinson's father was working as an engineer after retiring from the Navy. By his senior year in high school he was 6 feet, 7 inches tall, but he had not played organized basketball. When the coach added the tall senior to the basketball team, Robinson earned all-area and all-district honors but generated little interest among college basketball coaches. Basketball was not his first priority anyway—getting an education was. Robinson scored a 1320 on the SAT, and he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he majored in mathematics.

College basketball career

Robinson is widely considered to be the best basketball player in U.S. Naval Academy history. He chose the jersey number 50 after his idol Ralph Sampson. By the time he took the court in his first basketball game for the Navy Midshipmen men's basketball team, he had grown to 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), and over the course of his college basketball career he grew to 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m). In Robinson's final two years, he was a consensus All-American and won college basketball's two most prestigious player awards, the Naismith and Wooden Awards as a Naval Academy first classman (senior). Robinson played for the midshipmen under current University of Georgia Associate Head Coach Pete Herrmann. Upon graduation, he became eligible for the 1987 NBA Draft and was selected by the San Antonio Spurs with the first overall pick; however, the Spurs had to wait two years before he could join them because he had to fulfill two years of Navy duty.

The Navy excused him from three years of the normal five years of his military commitment following graduation from the Naval Academy because his height prohibited his deployment in many roles (e.g. aviation, the submarine service, and many ships). Nonetheless, Robinson continued to serve in a reserve role with the Navy and was regularly featured in recruiting materials for the service. Despite the nickname "Admiral", Robinson's actual rank upon fulfilling his service commitment was Lieutenant, Junior Grade.

At the Naval Academy, Robinson was an outstanding all-around athlete and chess player; during the physical tests that the Academy gives all incoming plebes he scored higher in gymnastics than anyone in his class. This was even more impressive due to his height: 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) at the time. To put this in perspective, virtually all male gymnasts are well under 6 ft (1.83 m) tall, and the service academies prohibit enrollment to anyone taller than 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m). However, the academies do not drop students who grow past this height limit after enrolling, which later benefited Robinson. During his college basketball career, several teammates and peers gave him the little-used nickname of "The Howler", due to Robinson's shouting at opposing players during critical shots.

NBA career

Although there was speculation that Robinson might choose not to sign with the Spurs and to become a free agent once his Navy commitment ended, Robinson decided in the end to come to San Antonio. Robinson joined the Spurs for the 1989–90 season, and led the Spurs to the greatest single season turnaround in NBA history at the time (a record the Spurs themselves broke in 1997-98, after drafting Tim Duncan). The Spurs went from 21–61 in the 1988–89 season to 56–26 in 1989–90, for a remarkable 35 game improvement. They advanced to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs where they lost in seven games to the eventual conference champion Portland Trail Blazers. Following the 1989–90 season, he was unanimously named the NBA rookie of the year, and subsequently SEGA produced a game featuring him entitled David Robinson's Supreme Court.

The Spurs made the playoffs seven more seasons in a row, but never got farther than the Western Conference finals. Robinson also made the 1992 US Olympic Dream Team that won the gold medal in Barcelona. During the 1993–94 season, he became locked in a duel for scoring champion with Shaquille O'Neal, and by the last game of the season, he scored 71 points against the Los Angeles Clippers to win it.

Robinson went on to win the MVP trophy in 1995, and in 1996 he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Still, from 1991 to 1996, Robinson was thwarted in his quest to claim the one prize that had eluded him--an NBA title. During that span the Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs by the Warriors, Suns (twice), Jazz (twice), and Rockets. The loss against the Rockets was particularly painful for Robinson because it occurred in the Western Conference Finals with Robinson playing head-to-head against his chief rival, Hakeem Olajuwon. By his own admission, Robinson was outplayed by Olajuwon in the series, their only meetings in post-season play.

Early in the 1997 season, Robinson's dreams of becoming a champion seemed to vanish when he was seriously injured. Robinson hurt his back in the preseason and missed much of the regular season. He did return to play, but six games later, suffered a broken foot in a home game against the Miami Heat, and ended up missing the rest of the regular season (along with several other Spurs players who seemed to get bitten by the injury bug) and the Spurs subsequently fell in the standings and finished the season with a 20–62 record. However, his injury proved to be a blessing in disguise: due to their dismal record in 1997, the Spurs enjoyed the first pick in the next year's NBA draft, and with it they selected Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest University, who was, after a few years, the final key to Robinson's quest for an NBA title.

Champion

Before the start of the 1998–99 season, the NBA owners and the NBA commissioner David Stern locked out the NBA Players' Association to force negotiation on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. This lockout lasted for 202 days, well into the regular NBA season, until finally an agreement was reached. Thus, the NBA season began late on February 5, 1999, making it literally the 1999 NBA season. After playing a truncated 50-game season, the Spurs finished with an NBA-best record of 37–13, giving them the home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Spurs blitzed through the first three rounds of the NBA playoffs, beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, and Portland Trail Blazers by a combined record of 11–1. In the NBA finals, the combination of Robinson in the post and second-year, 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) center Tim Duncan proved overpowering, the Spurs beat the underdog New York Knicks in five games to become the NBA champions, Duncan was named Finals MVP.

Champion again

Robinson announced he would retire from basketball after the 2002-03 campaign.

On June 15 2003, in a fitting finale to Robinson's career, the Spurs sealed another NBA title with an 88–77 victory over the New Jersey Nets in game six of the 2003 NBA Finals. Robinson scored 13 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in his final game. And fittingly, he and the year's MVP Tim Duncan—together known as the "Twin Towers" —shared Sports Illustrated magazine's 2003 Sportsmen of the Year award.

Robinson's NBA career averages are 21.1 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, 3.0 blocks per game, and 2.5 assists per game. Also, he is one of only a very small group of players to have scored over 20,000 career points in the NBA, as well as being one of only four players to have recorded a quadruple-double (with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 blocks against the Detroit Pistons on February 17, 1994), and one of the only five players to record more than 70 points in a single game (with 71 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on April 24, 1994), only Elgin Baylor (71 points), Wilt Chamberlain (70, 72, 73×2, 78, 100 points), David Thompson (73 points), and Kobe Bryant (81 points) have scored more than 70 points.

Career awards/accomplishments

His list of awards and accomplishments is long and include a number of records as well as sharing a number of distinctions with very few other luminaries of the game; for his on the court play, he was named among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

  • NBA Champion (1999, 2003)
  • NBA MVP (1995)
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1992)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1990)
  • All-NBA First Team (1991, '92, '95, '96)
  • All-NBA Second Team (1994, '98)
  • All-NBA Third Team (1990, '93, 2000, '01)
  • All-Defensive First Team (1991, '92, '95, '96)
  • All-Defensive Second Team (1990, '93, '94, '98)
  • 10-time NBA All-Star
  • Only player in NBA history to win the Rebounding, Blocked Shots, and Scoring Titles and Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and MVP
  • One of only four players to have recorded a quadruple-double
  • NBA Sportsmanship Award (2001)
  • Third player in NBA history to rank among the league's top 10 in five categories (7th in scoring (23.2 ppg), 4th in rebounding (12.2 rpg), 1st in blocks (4.49 per game), 5th in steals (2.32 per game) and 7th in field-goal percentage (.551))
  • First player in NBA history to rank among the top five in rebounding, blocks and steals (per game) in a single season
  • Fourth player ever to score 70+ in an NBA game
  • 3-time Olympian (1988, '92, '96)
  • One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996)
  • Led NBA in Scoring (1993–94 season) - 29.8 ppg
  • Led NBA in Rebounding (1990–91 season) - 13.0 rpg
  • Led NBA in Blocked Shots (1991–92 season) - 4.49 bpg
  • Holds record for most IBM Awards (1990, '91, '94, '95, '96)
  • His 10,497 rebounds and 2,954 blocked shots are the most by any player wearing a San Antonio Spurs jersey, and his 20,790 points are second most behind only George Gervin's 23,602. (Had only Gervin's NBA numbers been taken into account, Robinson would be #1 in this category; Gervin scored 4,219 of his points while the franchise was in the American Basketball Association.)
  • Gold Medal in 1986 FIBA World Championship.
  • Member of Dream Team #1 during Olympic Games at Barcelona.

Charitable efforts

Robinson will not only be remembered for his outstanding accomplishments throughout his NBA career, but also for his contributions in his community.

In 1991, Robinson visited with fifth graders at Gates Elementary School in San Antonio and challenged them to finish school and go to college. He offered a $2,000 scholarship to everyone who did. In 1998, proving even better than his word, Robinson awarded $8,000 to each of those students who had completed his challenge. In perhaps his greatest civic and charitable achievement, David and his wife, Valerie, founded the Carver Academy in San Antonio, which opened its doors in September 2001. To date, the Robinsons have donated more than $11 million to the school.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to charity, in March 2003, the NBA renamed its award for outstanding charitable efforts in honor of Robinson. Winners of the NBA's Community Assist Award receive the David Robinson Plaque, with the inscription "Following the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson who improved the community piece by piece." The award is given out monthly by the league to recognize players for their charitable efforts.

See also

References

External links

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