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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.