David Robinson

David Robinson

David Robinson

David Robinson – NBA legend David Robinson attended the 2015 Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in … [+] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Goldman / Icon Sportswire / Corbis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Anyone who follows basketball knows that Hall of Fame center and two-time NBA champion David Robinson is one of the titans of the game. But Robinson, the 1994 NBA scoring champion and 10-time All-Star, says his time in the US Army and Naval Academy made him the player he is.

David Robinson

David Robinson

“The Naval Academy challenges you and it’s not a place you don’t want to be a leader,” said Robinson, who graduated in 1987 and served at the Naval Submarine Base in Kings Bay, Georgia, before being drafted. 1 in the NBA pick. “Navy really shaped the way I look at playing basketball and the way I walk in the locker room.”

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With the 121st Army-Navy game scheduled for Saturday, December 12, Robinson is partnering with game launch sponsor USAA to engage fans across the country, ahead of the first live fanless game encounter.

Yesterday I spoke with Robinson, also known in circles as “The Admiral” during his time in basketball and how his time at the Naval Academy was instrumental in his development as a person and as a player.

Andy Frye: The Army-Navy Game this week. Discuss the importance of the game to military families and college graduates.

David Robinson: This is one of the best examples of good quality competition in all of sports. There is no doubt that serving in the military is something special. I think, knowing when you served, you have (along with other veterans) an amazing bond. I always get along with a lot of the people I play with, but also the people I serve. I’ve been in finance and private equity for about 15 years now and I’m always looking for opportunities to do business with them and reconnect with them. There is another level of mutual commitment and responsibility that we share. This is an amazing family.

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This year, because fans can’t go to the game, we’re trying to make sure Army and Navy fans still connect while playing. Anyone who follows the game can connect and send photos, and compete for tickets to next year’s game, and also participate in what I believe is one of the most important events in college sports.

AF: You certainly went beyond college basketball to being known (like most) to being known for football. What is dynamic?

David Robinson: When I joined the Navy, football was king. So, the whole brigade is passionate about football and matches, and we have to create a basketball culture there. I remember lifting weights with the football team as a freshman. I was very lean and I think in my first two years I got about 60lbs of lifting with them.

David Robinson

It was fun building the basketball program there. And as an Ensign, I became part of a culture that was close and built to serve a higher purpose.

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AF: You are one of the few military players in the NBA. How did Navy help David Robinson become an impact player?

Robinson: Academies exist to produce leaders, and that’s what they do, and they do it as well as any institution in the country. They put us in a situation where we were stressed but made us understand the responsibility of being a leader. You take responsibility, you don’t find excuses, you move on.

The experience asked me the question: am I ready to accept the responsibility of helping other children achieve their goals and improve my team? I think in the long run it allowed me to elevate my team and my NBA franchise as much as possible.

AF: Speaking of leaders, Gregg Pop0vich is a respected coach in his style. How do you work to improve Spurs in many leagues?

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Robinson: Pop is great and part of it is that we’re cut from the same cloth. [Note: Popovich is an Air Force graduate.] I think that’s how we get along. It’s no nonsense, with a “let’s get the job done” mentality.

In a small market like San Antonio you have to have bigger goals. If you only make money, as a player, you go to a bigger market. But if you’re interested in building something like an entire culture, like I did in the Navy, then you have to dig deep and do it with fewer resources than a big franchise. I think Pop accepts that responsibility and looks forward to that challenge. I think he and (Spurs CEO) R.C. (Buford) has done a great job of maintaining high quality with fewer resources than a Laker team or a New York team.

Robinson dunked in the first game of the 2003 Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers. (Photo by … [+] Brian Bahr / Getty Images)

David Robinson

AF: Each generation brings a different dimension to the game. What will happen to David Robinson in the NBA today?

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Robinson: Okay. I like to think that my game is flexible. I’m going to pound the floor, (but) I can really run with the boys now for sure. I like to throw the ball but I like to be hit more than to throw, so I don’t know how I can join this group. (Laughs.) A lot of players today want to shoot more than dunk.

I’ve always thought defense was the most important thing we did on that floor, and I think it’s been moved to the back seat a little bit with the current crop. I’d like to think I’ll do well now, but the big names seem less valuable to me, perhaps, because of the styles of many teams. But if you want to win championships you need good people with good quality. David Robinson is one of the greatest players in NBA history, but he is also one of the most humble legends of all time. He was not one to brag about his accomplishments or discuss his place in history. In fact, he downplays his great success by breeding other amazing players or redirecting credit to his teammates and coaches. Since the 52-year-old will not look at some of his results and statistics, we will do it for him.

During his 14-year career, the Hall of Famer averaged 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3 blocks and 1.4 steals. The two-time champion was also Rookie of the Year in 1990, Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 (averaging 4.5 blocks and 2.3 steals!) and Most Valuable Player in 1995. Michael Jordan is the only other player which won all three prizes. . Robinson led the NBA in scoring (1994), rebounding (1991) and blocking (1992), joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as only two players to lead the NBA in all three categories.

Sat down with the legendary San Antonio Spurs center to discuss his time at the Naval Academy, his work with the Wounded Warrior Project, his relationship with fellow military man Gregg Popovich, how the NBA has changed since the game day, his favorite big men to watch right now, the dominant one-two he formed with Tim Duncan, and more.

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I want to start with your story of growing up and your path to the NBA because it should sound like an urban legend to young fans. For the uninitiated, David was 5 foot 9 in middle school and 6 foot 6 in high school. Then, he entered the Naval Academy and grew to 7-foot-1, making him too tall for duty because he would have difficulty boarding ships, planes or submarines, according to a Navy statement. How has this late growth spurt been a plus for you?

David Robinson: I’m a rare case, especially these days because kids are recognized [as the best prospects] when they’re 12! I was a kid entering my senior year of high school without a lot of basketball experience and I didn’t have it

The thought of playing college sports. I thought academics was my ticket. This is where I think [my belated growth spurt] helped me a lot: it gave me enough focus and allowed me to understand that going to college was a real privilege and a real opportunity for me to grow. in ways I can’t imagine. .

David Robinson

I think when we talk about college and student-athletes in the age we live in today, [people forget] the value of being on a college campus and the value of growing as an individual during that time. . I think it’s the real value of college, especially because 99 percent of these guys aren’t going to play in a pro league anywhere. I really enjoyed my time on a college campus. Now, I have three boys and I tell them, “This moment is the best time of your life, so enjoy it!”

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