The story in the San Antonio Spurs' postgame dressing room -- President's Day, Feb. 21, 1994, at Target Center in Minneapolis -- was
What I noticed most, though, was his wristwatch.
Robinson, this famous NBA superstar, this MVP candidate and scoring leader, this officer and gentleman and multimillionaire, was wearing the exact same model of watch as I had on my left wrist. It was a rubber watch, a G-Shock digital gizmo from Casio with assorted dials and buttons, half a toy actually, retailing for about $60. In a professional sports world of Rolexes and Cartiers, that Robinson would opt for something so completely utilitarian and unaffected impressed the heck out of me, in ways something shiny, gilded and baubled never would have. Besides, it suited him and his game, all about getting the job done -- whether telling time or outplaying an opponent -- with little extraneous flash or drama. And besides that, I liked the idea of telling people that an NBA big shot wore
Robinson scored 50 points that day and, come to think of it, very nearly got overshadowed by the chaos swirling around him in both locker rooms.
Just another day in the NBA as we knew it, the NBA through which Robinson moved with such class and dignity and maturity. As good as Robinson was -- and he was exceptional, winning two NBA championships, playing for the U.S. team in three Olympics, earning the 1995 MVP award, a scoring title, a quadruple-double and 10 trips to the All-Star Game, securing his spot among the top 10 centers in league history, welcoming and yielding to a younger teammate (
Things sometimes got turned so inside-out in the NBA, as
Being a David Robinson fan, if you didn't live in San Antonio, could feel a little like rooting for
"We were playing shooting games in practice,''
"I'm going to win. I'm racking up words,'' Rose said. "David's right behind. I misplace a word by one letter, just put it in the wrong spot. He asked me if I really wanted it. 'Yeah, that's what I want.' He cancels the word -- I guess he made up a rule -- he took my word, took the 'S', too, and took like 90 points from me and won the game. That cheatin' bum.''
Rose laughed, his teasing over.
"No, he's very straight up. You don't need to be careful with David. That's one guy you can build up,'' he said. "He could be an ass if he wanted to because he's a superstar. But he's one of the best people you ever want to meet. He's my brother in Christ and like a father figure to me. ... I don't think the NBA or definitely this team is going to realize what it's lost until he's gone.''
A selection committee has given everyone a chance to remember at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony (where Robinson might get overshadowed again with Jordan going in, same night).
Me, I still wear the watch.