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Robinson was the one who started that all, and there still remains a special place in San Antonio's heart for the 10-time All-Star and member of the original Dream Team. But time can dim anyone's star, even one as bright as the Admiral's.
When he walked into Wheatley Middle School on Wednesday for an NBA Cares event to dedicate a new learning and play center, Robinson took a seat and waited for his introduction. Emcee Ahmad Rashad listed his many accomplishments — the Hall of Famer and the face of the franchise for 14 seasons — and Robinson received a warm ovation from the children who sat cross-legged a few feet in front of him.
Then came Danny Green, the no-name role player in his fourth year who was cut twice but had just exploded for 27 points the previous night. The place went bananas, a thunderous ovation for the man of the hour.
"Most of these kids don't even know who I am," Robinson said with a hearty chuckle and a wide smile after reading a book to them. "It's great. It's been a lot of fun. Even to be just a small part of it right now is pretty cool for me."
There's no bitterness in his voice. No yearning for one more night in the spotlight, one more roar from the crowd.
It's been 10 years since Robinson retired after winning his second championship with the Spurs. A full decade since he last laced up the shoes professionally and went to battle in the paint with 20,000 fans screaming his name and 14 teammates looking to him to make the big play in the big moment.
"I miss the locker room," Robinson said. "That's where you make such good friends, and the competing from day to day is a lot of fun. But I like raising my kids. I've had my fun. That was great. And I enjoy now being a part of it the way I am."
Somehow, some way, the same three kids — Duncan, Parker, Ginobili — Robinson left to carry the torch are still together. Still winning. Still Spurs. They've won two titles without Robinson, who showed them all how to be pros.
"They're about the last ones I recognize on this team," he said. "It's great. You see the new generations coming now. Obviously Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard playing phenomenal basketball. Gary Neal's doing a great job. Tony's still a young guy. They've got all the pieces to keep it moving."
|Coll of Charleston||53|
|William & Mary||57|
|(17) Florida State||110|
|(9) Oregon State||68||FINAL|
|(13) Arizona State||57|
|(12) North Carolina||67|