Originally created 05/28/03

Robinson has quiet farewell



SAN ANTONIO - Somebody tried to draw a comparison Tuesday between the atmosphere surrounding David Robinson's last few playing days and the hoopla from Michael Jordan's recent farewell tour.

Just putting those names in the same sentence triggered Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's temper.

"I don't care about Michael Jordan. I care about David Robinson," Popovich said. "They're not comparable situations."

They're not comparable farewells, either.

Thousands of flashbulbs do not go off every time Robinson steps to the free throw line.

There's hero worship at play here, but it's of a different variety.

Robinson will retire after a stellar 14-year career that included an NBA championship, an MVP season, a Rookie of the Year Award, 10 All-Star selections, a scoring title and two Olympic gold medals.

Folks in San Antonio get a little worked up when speaking about Robinson, whose contributions to the community have been generous, earnest and praiseworthy.

Perhaps that helps explain why Popovich reacted to a Jordan-Robinson premise as though someone had jabbed him with an ice pick.

Popovich will argue that no other superstar in NBA history has ever welcomed and tutored his own superstar replacement as willingly and as well as Robinson has with Tim Duncan.

Robinson's role has diminished on an annual basis since Duncan was drafted in 1997.

Robinson, who does not conduct pre-game interviews on game days, was unavailable to comment Tuesday.

His appeal as always been different than that of Jordan. Robinson is more reserved, more religious and more committed to making a lasting difference in people's lives.

The crowning accomplishment of his career has nothing to do with basketball - except for the fact that the sport provided him with the financial means to do something extraordinary.

Robinson donated $9 million to help create the Carver Academy, an all-scholarship school for underprivileged children from San Antonio's impoverished East side.

When the Spurs passed the hat in the locker room for a retirement gift for Robinson, his teammates came up with $100,000 for the school.

Robinson hasn't said what his future career plans are.

"He's got a lot of interests that actually have impact on the world and have some value, unlike the rest of us," Popovich said. "He's way too committed to real life to do something as silly as basketball the rest of his life."