Today in sports history: November 4th, 1989 David “The Admiral” Robinson makes NBA debut

060406-N-0696M-010By Sam Coombs

David Robinson had one of the most interesting paths to making his NBA debut in the history of the game. Robinson didn’t even start playing organized basketball until his senior year in high school when he grew to 6’ 6” inches tall. He put up great numbers his senior year but had little interest from colleges for basketball. Robinson chose then to attend the Naval Academy, which was a choice that was well respected in his family. His father was in the Navy when David was growing up and it was something Robinson was familiar with.

At first, when playing basketball for Navy, Robinson had no intentions or thought of playing in the NBA until he started growing more and getting better. He was going to Navy for mathematics and originally pictured himself having a career in the Navy. By the end of his college career he had grown to 7’ tall, and putting up huge numbers.

Many NBA teams were scouting him and hearing buzz about this guy – David Robinson. No one from Navy had ever put up numbers like this and it wasn’t the type of school that had nationally recognized athletes. Robinson was indeed a unique kind of player.

While playing for Navy Robinson would land on the Consensus All American Team in 1986 (2nd team) and 1987 (1st team). The 1986 through ’87 season would prove to be an incredible one for The Admiral as he was named the AP Player of the Year, the NABC Player of the Year, the Sporting News Player of the Year, the UPI Player of the Year, the USBWA Player of the Year, while winning the Naismith Award, Wooden Award, and the Rupp Trophy.

After his career at Navy, Robinson was eligible to enter the 1987 draft in which he was drafted 1st by the San Antonio Spurs. At first, the Spurs were hesitant to make this selection because Robinson was going to have to serve 2 years mandatory in the Navy upon graduation. The Spurs went ahead and made the decision knowing this and it ended up panning out for them. For the two years Robinson was out of basketball he was a civil engineer at a Naval submarine base but continued to work on his game.

When Robinson finally signed with the Spurs and joined the team, this was a guy who had 4 years of college basketball under his belt, and two years of practice after that. A pretty experienced rookie to say the least. His first game in the NBA was against the Los Angeles Lakers and he made a huge impact right away.

He was the leading scorer for the Spurs scoring 23 points and 17 rebounds. After one game the Spurs organization could see that his basketball services were going to be worth the wait. Robinson went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year that season and achieving many other accolades throughout his professional career.

Robinson is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He has won 2 championships, a MVP Award in 1995, 10 time All Star, the Sportsmanship Award, and the list goes on. He is known as one of the greatest people and players the league has ever seen and is greatly respected.


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