Admiral earns his stars
Spurs one win away from getting Robinson his NBA title
Posted: Friday June 25, 1999 11:52 AM
By John Donovan, CNN/SI
This is a special NBA Finals edition of "The Week at a Glance." Check back every day until the Finals are decided for a new glance.
NEW YORK -- David Robinson is on the cusp of his first NBA title after 10 long years in the league. After too much second-guessing, constant accusations that he's too soft, a back injury that threatened his career -- David Robinson is finally one step away.
And the San Antonio Spurs -- his team for the past decade -- want to help him get it. Badly.
"I don't think he's been given enough credit by anyone for what he's done for us," said Tim Duncan, who has taken over as the team's leading scorer. "He's been the glue that has held our team together, the person that really stepped up and made things happen, both defensively and offensively. He's been everything to us."
Robinson is having an incredible run in the NBA Finals, really. He's averaging 17 points a game, 11.8 rebounds and 3.5 blocks. All of them are better than the numbers he posted in the regular season.
They are not as big as the numbers that Duncan, the other 7-footer in the San Antonio Twin Towers, has put up: 26.5 points and 15.3 rebounds a game in the Finals.
But Robinson's numbers show what he's worth to this team. And that's only part of it.
"If you ever met him, ever talked to him, you know what he's about," said Duncan. "He wants to win. He wants the best thing for the team. I think he was overlooked a lot this year for what he did because his role is lessened in the scoring. But he did so much more for the team this year, and he just accepted that role."
Robinson stepped back this season and let Duncan take the scoring load. Many have suggested it was at coach Gregg Popovich's urging. But Robinson and his coach never talked about it. It was something both saw needed to be done, so Robinson took it upon himself to do it.
And now the Spurs are a step away from winning the first NBA title in the 26-year history of the franchise.
"If we're fortunate enough to get this done -- whenever -- it would be a special moment for David and all the rest of us would just be in awe of that moment," Popovich said, "because we all want it so badly for him."
Robinson, a former NBA MVP and a scoring leader, has been criticized for not being able to take his team to the pinnacle. He's been said to be too soft to win it all, a label that stems from his nice guy image, an image that evidently is on the money.
Robinson is deeply religious, heavily involved in charitable organizations and is genuinely liked, by all accounts, by everyone on the team.
"I knew he had this reputation for being soft, not being passionate about the game," said guard Steve Kerr, new to the Spurs this season. "But I also knew first-hand [the two played on all-star teams and in college] that he's very unselfish and he wanted to win. I think, in the past, the situation wasn't right for him."
Now, with Duncan to score, Robinson is free to play defense, rebound and score when needed.
And now, he's finally there.
"I'm about one of the most competitive people I know," Robinson said. "When people question your desire to be out there on the floor, that bothers you. It bothered me. So now it's nice to kind of come to a point where people see that I can have the personality that I have and still be a champion. That's a nice feeling."
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