David Robinson had a Hall of Fame career, and his arrival in San Antonio made a lasting impact. He joined the San Antonio Spurs in the 1989-90 season after fulfilling his commitment with the Navy and instantly led the Spurs into respectability.
During his first year, Robinson helped the Spurs to achieve one of the biggest one-season turnaround in NBA history.
After a 21-61 record the previous season, the Spurs finished with a 56–26 record, good for first place in the Midwest Division.
Robinson had one of the most successful rookie seasons for a center in NBA history, finishing the season as the unanimous choice for Rookie of the Year award while averaging 24.3 points and 12.0 rebounds.
With that the Spurs began the 1990s with great optimism and became a perennial playoff team.
However, there’s a tendency among some basketball observers to discount some of his most notable accomplishments.
Fair or not, Robinson’s career is judged by many as mainly what he achieved after Tim Duncan’s arrival. The fact that the Spurs made only one Western Conference Final appearance before Duncan came to the franchise makes some forget how truly dominant Robinson was.
One recent statistical analysis ranks Robinson as the most dominant center of the complete statistical era of the post-merger NBA.
Neil Payne of Basketball-Reference.com crunched the numbers to figure the peak seasons of every NBA player during that time. Payne’s idea is to account for a player’s wins above a replacement level.
Robinson’s 1993-1994 season ranked second among all NBA players in history, trailing only Michael Jordan’s 1987-88 production.
Here’s another proof on how dominant Robinson really was.
Since the 1985-86 NBA season, a player has notched at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots in the same regular season game only 46 times.
Robinson leads the list with nine times in his career, followed by Hakeem Olajuwon with eight.
No player other than Robinson accomplished the feat more than twice in the same regular season. And during his streak late in the 1993-94 season, Robinson notched a 20-10-6-6 four times in a 22-game span.
Included was Robinson’s quadruple-double of 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 blocked shots on Feb. 17, 1994 which is the most recent quadruple-double in NBA history.
There’s a tendency among some to remember Robinson as the supporting player who with Duncan led the Spurs to titles in 1999 and 2003.
But Robinson’s overall production before Duncan arrived actually topped anything Duncan’s or anybody else not named Jordan has achieved in any season in the NBA’s modern statistical era.
Today, Robinson continues to make an impact in San Antonio off the court, by giving back to the community.
He may not able to lead the Spurs to an NBA title before Duncan’s arrival, but he certainly built the foundation for the Spurs; a legacy that should be remembered.
Re-live Robinson’s 71-point performance against the Clippers.