With the 1st pick in the 1st round of the 1987 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected David Robinson from the United States Naval Academy. He has one true rookie card and one rookie year card.
David Robinson Expected to Deliver
For some, when they think of San Antonio Spurs greats the original Mr. San Antonio, George Gervin comes to mind. For other collectors/basketball fans, Tim Duncan comes to mind. But in between Gervin and Duncan was David Robinson.
David was nicknamed The Admiral for his military service in the U.S. Navy, he was drafted in 1987 but he wanted to finish his commitment with the Navy, so he didn’t sign a contract with the Spurs until 1989. His contract nearly matched the highest contract in the league so this put a ton of pressure on him to perform.
The Admiral did not disappoint, in his rookie season he won Rookie of the Year and averaged 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assist, and 3.9 blocks per game!
Following his lead, the franchise started to win. Spurs won 21 games in 1988 and when David arrived in 1989 the Spurs record was 56-26 earning them a #2 seed in the Playoffs. The 1989 San Antonio Spurs went from losing to winning faster than any other team in NBA history.
Expectations Turn to Frustrations
Expectations were high and David Robinson met those expectations but frustrations started to set in. The 1991-1994 seasons became stagnant. David himself was an All-Star and putting up great numbers but as a team, not so much, and Robinson was getting impatient.
With new coaches in place for the 1993-94 season, the offense depended more heavily on Robinson. It was a good move too because the offensive rating of the Spurs improved tremendously, now they were bonified contenders again, and although Robinson was averaging 29 ppg the Spurs still fell short in the Playoffs.
However, this momentum carried over into the 94-95 season, and the Spurs had their best season as a team going 62-20. Robinson won the MVP that year but many felt it should’ve gone to Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets. (At least that’s how they felt in Texas) Lol.
Ironically, Robinson was given his MVP trophy at the start of the Playoffs against none other than the Houston Rockets. Many feel Hakeem played that series with a vengeance. Needless to say, the Rockets eliminated the Spurs from the Playoffs. As one could imagine, frustrations mounted for David Robinson.
Injuries began to plague Robinson in 1996-97 and he never really recovered as that dominant center. The Spurs only won 20 games in 1996-97 but this helped them to get a #1 pick for the 1997-98 season, that number one pick was none other than Tim Duncan.
David Robinson Gets a Little Help From Friends
With Tim Duncan now taking the lead and the inclusion of Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, and David Robinson of course the recipe for a winning team was completed. The San Antonio Spurs were NBA Champions by the 1998-99 season giving David the much-anticipated title he’s been looking for.
David became a solid role player and won a second Championship in the 2002-03 season, David retired after that season but he did so as a champion.
Career Stats & Accomplishments
David Robinson played for 14 seasons all of them with the San Antonio Spurs. He played in 987 games and averaged 21.1 Points | 10.6 Total Rebounds | 2.5 Assist per game.
- 89-90 Rookie of the Year
- 89-90 All-Rookie Team
- 90-91 Total Rebound Champion
- 91-92 Defensive Player of the Year
- 91-92 Block Champion
- 93-94 Scoring Champion
- 94-95 MVP
- 10x All-NBA
- 10x All-Star
- 8x All-Defensive
- 2x NBA Champion (1998-99 & 2002-03)
- 2009 Hall of Fame Induction
An accomplishment worth mentioning here is, David Robinson has 1 of only 5 quadruple doubles in NBA history! On February 17, 1994, in a game against the Detroit Pistons, The Admiral put up the following numbers: 34 points | 10 rebounds | 10 assists | 10 blocks.
Compared to other Centers in the league David’s career was rather short, perhaps it was because of him fulfilling his duty to the Navy thus causing him to not start his NBA career until the age of 24.
However, David Robinson is considered by many as one of the Top 10 Centers of all-time.
1989-90 Hoops, #138 (RC)
This is the premier product of the popular Hoops brand and it was a 352 card set offered to collectors in two series. Series 1 has 300 cards and Series 2 offers only 52 cards. This set has been labeled by collectors as the one that ignited the basketball card boom of the 90s.
This is the key card in the set and is the only true rookie card of David Robinson.
The card front captures David on Draft Day or perhaps Contract Signing Day, really not sure. The design of the card is unique because it’s shaped like a basketball court. The card back features a headshot, player bio, and commentary. Also, a slight yellowish tint sits within the borders.
This could’ve been a set for the ages however, it was mass-produced like many products in this era, and cases of this product can still be found today at a minimal cost.
1989-90 Hoops, #310 (RYC)
There is a second card in the set that has confused many collectors over the years. The card backs are almost identical but the card front features him at the free-throw line.
This is NOT a rookie card of David Robinson because a long time hobby standard says, when there are multiple cards of the same player within a set only the first card in the set is considered the true rookie card.
However, it’s still an early key card of David Robinson and worthy of any collection. I like to refer to these as the “Rookie Year Cards.”
For more San Antonio Spurs HOFers see The Fundamental Rookie Cards of Tim Duncan.
Happy Collecting, Collectors
Learn. Collect. Enjoy.