David Robinson, NBA Legend – Interview
One of the top centers of all time, David “The Admiral” Robinson is a marvel of a basketball player and a respected figure off the court as well. He’s the only male basketball player to represent the U.S. in three Olympics, and was chosen as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Robinson’s community service stats are even more impressive. In 1992, Robinson and his wife, Valerie, created the David Robinson Foundation, a Christian organization with a mission to support programs that address the physical and spiritual needs of the family. More recently, he gave $9 million to establish the Carver Academy at San Antonio’s Carver Culture Center, a multicultural and multiethnic community center.
The future Hall of Fame center, who retired this season, also has teamed with the Spurs Foundation for 13 years to provide 50 Spurs season tickets for “Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood of Achievers,” a program that recognizes children for their accomplishments in the classroom and community.
Not surprisingly, Robinson has been named Sports Illustrated’s 50th Anniversary Ambassador of Sports. During this year-long celebration, the importance of parks and recreation programs in enhancing community sports will be highlighted.
Q: Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary celebration is focused on the fans, and sports as a force for good. Can you comment on that?
Robinson: Well, the great thing that I like about what Sports Illustrated is doing is that they’re focusing on sports as a force for good in the country and in the community, and the main good thing is that it brings all the cultures together. You look at a city like San Antonio–when we celebrate the championship everyone comes together and everyone is happy, and that’s a great thing. How many times in a city do you see everyone on the same page? Everyone is happy, and everyone is enjoying the same thing. There’s no crime, it’s just a joy! And that’s a force for good.
Q: What positive things do sports bring to us?
Robinson: It teaches [us] about life … [sports] just teaches us how to persevere and teaches us to get along with people who aren’t like us, but we can come together.
Q: Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary community outreach mission through the YMCA and National Recreation and Park Association is to enhance the quality of sports in America’s communities. If you could change one thing in the world of sports today, what would that be?
Robinson: I would probably change the fact that some sports aren’t really available to a lot of kids. I mean, when I grew up, I didn’t have golf clubs, or some kids don’t grow up around pools. There are just some things that aren’t available, and if there’s something I could change, I would make more sports available to more people because you never know, somewhere in the inner city there might be a kid who could be an incredible skier, or motorcycle rider, or something. If there were something I could change, I would give those kids opportunities to be exposed to some of those things they might never be exposed to.
Q: Your ongoing dedication to your community is admirable. Such generosity and commitment is not necessarily the norm in today’s society. How did the idea for The Carver Academy come about, and what are your hopes and vision for the future?
Robinson: Well, the Carver Academy came about because my wife and I wanted to give something back to the community. We wanted something that was going to continue giving back to San Antonio long after we were gone. At the Naval Academy you learn that your part is something greater and that your education, your growth, is not necessarily about you becoming rich or famous–it’s about you giving something back, becoming a part of a history, building upon the foundation that has already been laid, standing on the shoulders of these giants that have gone before you. That’s what I wanted to teach at the Carver Academy.
Q: What would your youth-development philosophy be?
Robinson: Here we live in a great city in San Antonio–let’s make it even better, let’s teach the kids to go out there and make an impact, make it even better than what I left it. We’re giving youth this opportunity so that they can give somebody else that opportunity, and so far we’ve laid down these basic principles for the kids: integrity, service, initiative, discipline and faith. Without these five pillars, you’re not going to be successful.
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