The Admiral’s big season: Recalling how versatile Robinson really was

As dominant as David Robinson was during his Hall of Fame career, there’s a tendency among some basketball observers to discount some of his most notable accomplishments.

It’s understandable because Robinson’s career is judged by many as mainly what he achieved after Tim Duncan’s arrival.

And the fact that the Spurs made only one Western Conference Final appearance before Duncan came to the franchise makes some forget how truly dominant Robinson was before his sidekick donned the Silver and Black.

One recent statistical analysis ranks Robinson as the most dominant center of the complete statistical era of the post-merger NBA.

Neil Payne of crunched the numbers to figure the peak seasons of every NBA player during that time. Payne’s idea is to .

Robinson’s landmark 1993-1994 season ranked second among all NBA players in history, trailing only Michael Jordan’s 1987-88 production.

That was a unique season for Robinson. Dennis Rodman was in place to take care of the majority of the team’s rebounding needs. Coach John Lucas opted to run his offense through Robinson, who in effect became a point center for the team.

In the process, Robinson played the best basketball of his career during the second half of that season. It enabled him to make history as the only Spur in franchise history to lead the team in scoring, assists, steals, blocked shots and field-goal percentage in the same season. He was second in rebounding behind Rodman.   

Here’s another example of Robinson’s versatility during that season. Since the 1985-86 season, a player has notched at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and six blocked shots in the same regular season game only 46 times. Robinson leads the list with nine times in his career, followed by Hakeem Olajuwon with eight.

No player other than Robinson accomplished the feat more than twice in the same regular season. And during his streak late in the 1993-94 season, Robinson notched a 20-10-6-6 four times in a 22-game span.

Included was of 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 blocked shots on Feb. 17, 1994 –  the most recent quadruple-double in NBA history.  

Robinson’s numbers were actually better  in 1993-94 than the following season, when he led the Spurs to the Midwest Division title, the best record in the league and earned the Most Valuable Player award. His 1993-94 numbers remain the most impressive all-around statistical season by any player in Spurs history.

There’s a tendency among some to remember Robinson as the supporting player who with Duncan led the Spurs to titles in 1999 and 2003.

But Robinson’s overall production before Duncan arrived actually topped anything Duncan’s or anybody else not named Jordan has achieved in any season in the NBA’s modern statistical era.  

The numbers bear him out.

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