David Robinson showed no signs of being a future NBA Hall of Famer during his teenage years. His father was an engineer and a Navy veteran, and by the time he approached his senior year in high school, he’d never played a game of organized basketball.
He joined the team during his final prep year as a 6-foot-6, 175-pound beanpole, and proceeded to earn all-area and all-district honors on the court for Osbourn Park High School in Manassas, Virginia. But college was where he planned on applying his considerable intelligence, not blazing a path to pro ball.
He chose to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, where a life of military service awaited after graduation. He proceeded to grow six inches and by his junior year, was amazingly dubbed a consensus All-American. As a senior in 1986, he won the two most prestigious college hoops honors, the Naismith and Wooden Awards as the country’s best player, en route to leading the Midshipmen to within one game of the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.
The San Antonio Spurs selected him with the first overall pick in the 1987 NBA Draft, and were more than content to wait for two years as Robinson completed his military service obligations as a staff officer in the Civil Engineer Corps.
NBA fans need no refresher on his outstanding career. The Spurs were considered among worst franchises in the league upon his arrival, and he engineered the greatest single-season turnaround in league history at the time in 1990. They went from 21-61 without him the year before. With Robinson in full effect as a rookie, they finished 56-26.
Many will remember his play with the ’92 Olympic Dream Team, the 71-point game against the Clippers in ’94, the MVP season in ’95, leading the league in points, rebounds and blocked shots in separate seasons, and his valiant quest to bring a title to San Antonio. Tim Duncan’s arrival helped make that championship dream a reality.
There were few others in the history of sports who were so dominant, gifted, gracious and talented, who walked with such class and who could, in paraphrasing Rudyard Kipling, walk with kings without losing the common touch.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
We appreciate him through the lens of sports as one of the greatest basketball players ever. And as we celebrate Veterans Day, The Shadow League also appreciates him, not only as a human being, but for his service, sacrifice for this country, and as an example of hard work and humanity that we should all strive towards.
Thanks Admiral. Happy Veterans Day.