Let’s turn back the clock today and remember one of March Madness’ biggest and most popular stars.
The highest rank in the U.S Navy that he ever held was Lieutenant Junior Grade. However, this former U.S Naval Academy basketball star will always be known by his notable nautical nickname The Admiral.
While an NBA pro with the San Antonio Spurs, Robinson won two Olympic gold medals, two NBA championships and a 1995 NBA Most Valuable Player. Plus, in 1995 he was named as one of the 50 greatest NBA players in history.
But, David Robinson will always be remembered for his unexpected, brilliant college basketball at Navy where he fans first saw him as The Admiral.
Robinson only started playing basketball competitively as a high school senior. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy as a skinny 6’8” and 185 lbs. freshman with very little basketball ability. Robinson even needed special permission from the Navy to apply because he was already taller than the military school’s maximum height allowance.
The late blooming Robinson graduated four years later as a muscular, highly skilled 7’1” athletic center. Robinson left his mark on college basketball as the all-time greatest U.S. Naval Academy player. In his junior year, The Admiral led the Midshipmen to the Elite 8 in the NCAA tournament, the school’s highest finish ever. During his senior season, he averaged 28.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots per game.
Robinson received the college basketball’s two highest honors during his senior season. The Admiral won both the Naismith and Wooden Awards given each year to NCAA college basketball’s top overall player.
Robinson did not immediately enter the NBA after graduation even though he was selected by the San Antonio Spurs as the overall number one pick in the 1987 NBA Draft.
The Admiral served two years of his required active duty in the Navy before joining the Spurs organization in 1989. He played for San Antonio for his entire 13 year NBA career and was elected into the basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.
He may have only worn the uniform of a Lieutenant Junior Grade during his service in the U.S. Navy. But, whenever David Robinson stepped onto the basketball court, he played and led like the ranking Admiral for which he was named.
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