View Full Version : 'The Admiral' preparing to dock for one final time

06-15-2003, 08:17 AM
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'The Admiral' preparing to dock for one final time
By Dwain Price
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

David Robinson has accomplished many things on the court, but he might be most proud of an independent school he established for impoverished children in San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO - The end of a long road is just around the corner for one of the greatest gentlemen in the history of professional sports.

Once the San Antonio Spurs finish this season -- which could be tonight at 7:30 when they host the New Jersey Nets in Game 6 of the NBA Finals -- David Robinson will hang up his sneakers and await his place in the Hall of Fame. One win from retiring with a second NBA championship, The Admiral is on the cusp of another marvelous achievement.

"Who could write a script like this?" Robinson asked. "This is awesome. I'm just so happy to be in this spot, to be with a team that can win a championship. We're one game away from winning everything, and you couldn't script it any better."

Robinson, 37, is soaking in all the fun that these Finals have brought.

"I don't really think about what it's going to be like after not having the games to play anymore," Robinson said. "I did think about not having to go to training camp again -- which was a nice thought -- but the rest of it I guess I probably won't miss until it starts happening and I start watching the games.

"It's a lot harder to root from the sidelines than it is to be in the game. So I'll be out there suffering with the fans from here on out."

The 14-year NBA veteran graduated with a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the Naval Academy. Robinson has played in 987 regular-season games for a total of 34,271 minutes, and 123 playoff games for another 3,812 minutes.

He has led the NBA in scoring (29.8 in 1994), rebounding (13.0 in 1991) and blocked shots (4.49 in 1992), is a 10-time All-Star, the league MVP (1995), Defensive Player of the Year (1992) and Rookie of the Year (1990). He even scored 71 points in a game on April 24, 1994, against the Los Angeles Clippers, the eighth highest single-game total in NBA history .

Robinson's feats rival those of anyone who has played in the NBA. But has he received his due?

"It's funny, when I think about my career, I don't think I deserve any more credit than what I've gotten," Robinson said. "I mean, I couldn't complain.

"I'm not going to look back and say, 'Well, people have really overlooked me.' I wouldn't do that. I just don't think that's happened."

Robinson, who'll turn 38 in August, is all about cherishing the legacy he'll leave behind, not about informing folks what he's accomplished.

He is all about winning, and about uplifting the children from Carver Academy, an independent school designed for students pre-K through the eighth grade who reside on San Antonio's east side.

Robinson and his wife, Valerie, donated $9 million to help create Carver Academy two years ago, and he's always around the school talking to the students, making sure they have a safe environment where they can be properly educated.

"I think in the long run, it's not so much what people say about you, it's what you left behind," Robinson said. "It's the impact you've had on people's lives and things like that.

"I've had some great opportunities getting to know some guys and being a part of their lives, so it's been fun. That's what makes my career a success more than anything."

Voted in 1996 as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Robinson has career averages of 21.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He also is the only male basketball player to participate in three Olympics -- Seoul in 1988, Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996.

But that pales to what Robinson has meant to the Spurs and the NBA.

Not only did Robinson agree to reduce his go-to role when Tim Duncan joined the Spurs in 1997, he relished making sure Duncan was comfortable with his new surroundings.

"He made it easy from Day One," Duncan said of Robinson. "We accepted a role with each other that we are a better team if we work together rather than trying to work against each other."

Now, Robinson looks forward to being around the house with his wife and their three boys on a daily basis. No more planes to catch. No more quiet nights in hotel rooms. No more dinners on the road.

"The transition will probably be a little bit different because it's almost like starting over," Robinson said. "I may have to go back to school or something, but I'm looking forward to it in a lot of ways, too.

"It's kind of a growth thing for me. I get to move to the next level. I think that's exciting, too."

Spoken like an officer and a gentleman.