Friday, September 18, 2009

Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood moves uptown

I beg your indulgence as I post something that is not the usual fare for this blog.

I know I'm a little slow in posting this, since the Basketball Hall of Fame ceremony was on September 11 of this year. However, I would be remiss if I didn't post, even this late, on the induction of David Robinson to the Basketball Hall of Fame. I know Michael Jordan was the "big" name of this Hall of Fame class. That's typical, because even though David Robinson had a Hall of Fame career, won a league MVP award, was selected to ten all-star teams and was chosen as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time, he was often overshadowed by players with more flash, more style, and certainly more ego.

Known as "The Admiral" in honor of his service in the United States Navy, Robinson had the God-given advantage of height. He took that advantage and ran with it. He was not flashy, but he was perhaps the most fundamentally sound basketball player ever. He played the game the right way--with talent, with passion, with humility. He was a stand-out on his own, but when the San Antonio Spurs drafted Tim Duncan with the first pick of the 1997 draft, David took under his wing the young man who everyone said would overshadow him. He invited Duncan into his home, helped to develop his skill, and showed him by shining example how to play the game the way it should be played--both in his respect for the game and in showing how mastering and returning to fundamentals could make Duncan an even greater player. Together these men won two NBA championships, with Robinson retiring as a champion in 2003.

But even greater than Robinson's basketball career are his contributions to his community. Robinson's Christian faith has led him and his wife, Valerie, to be charitable, saying in an interview with People magazine, "The Bible is very clear: Don't do your good works before men to be cheered by men. [Valerie] and I do the right things because that's what God told us to do." Robinson promised fifth graders from a San Antonio elementary school that he would given them each a $2,000 scholarship if they completed school and went to college, and those who accepted his challenge and went to college each received $8,000. The Robinsons also used $9 million of their own money to found the Carver Academy, an inner-city school whose purpose is to prepare mostly underprivileged children with a quality education to prepare them for even the most competitive high schools. He also participates in a program called "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood", which encourages kids to stay in school and away from drugs. The NBA named the trophy given to winners of their monthly Community Assist Award for outstanding charitable efforts the "David Robinson Plaque".

Congratulations, Mr. Robinson. You deserve the accolades you have received--both as an athlete and as a Christian gentleman.

Here is his Basketball Hall of Fame speech. I won't compare it with Michael Jordan's speech, but be sure to note Robinson's humility, graciousness and eloquence. It's a shame more professional athletes don't get the chance to sit at Robinson's feet and learn from him. I look forward to the day Tim Duncan gives his Hall of Fame speech, as I think it will be the same way.

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