On April 24, 1994, David Robinson was 33 points behind Shaquille O’Neal for the NBA scoring title. In the last game of the season, against the L.A. Clippers, he scored 71 points. This brought his season average to 29.8 points per game. Shaq played later that night, knowing how much he had to score to pass David, but only managed to score 32 points, for a season average of 29.3 ppg. David took the NBA scoring title. The next year he would win the league MVP award.
The game wasn’t nationally televised, and many Spurs fans thought that all footage of it had been lost. But the Spurs.com broadcasting department has managed to track it down, and now you can watch online most of David Robinson’s points in his 71 point game. This is a Spurs record, surpassing the 63 scored by George Gervin, also done in the final game of the season to win a scoring title.
Watching this brought back a lot of memories of just how special a player David was. He will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame later this week. For all his amazing achievements, The Admiral is still underrated as a player. See sports economist Dave Berri’s statistical analysis of David’s performance, in which he determines that Robinson was the most effective center since Kareem Abdul Jabbar–surpassing both Shaq and Hakeem Olajuwon. And it’s almost cliche to say, but Robinson has been as awesome off the court as he was on. Since retirement, he has devoted his time to the school he founded for underprivileged children in San Antonio, a city he has done so much for that when he left the league the NBA renamed its community assistance award the David Robinson plaque.
Can you tell I kind of idolized David Robinson growing up? It’s nice when your childhood sports hero is such an upstanding guy that he seems as cool under adult scrutiny as he did to your uncritical younger self.