Robinson returns for old-timers salute All-Star impressed by new Alumni Hall

September 28, 1991|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- It was just for a brief moment, but memories from the glory days of Navy basketball were recaptured last night with a familiar refrain from the public address announcer:

" . . . and at center, No. 50, David Robinson."

David Robinson, the Midshipman who was college basketball's Player of the Year in 1987 and two-time All-American before becoming an NBA All-Star in San Antonio, returned to his original neighborhood last night during the first annual Naval Academy alumni basketball game at the new, $30 million Alumni Hall. It was a night for some of the Navy old-timers to break a sweat, but for some of the fans -- and especially the young -- it was the presence of Robinson that was the big draw, even though he didn't play.

"I'm excited, this is fun," said Robinson at a news conference before taking his position on the bench. "I get a chance to see all of these guys I haven't seen in a long time. And this arena is great."

It's been a busy summer for Robinson. From conducting clinics with Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen in Europe, to dinner at the White House on Thursday, Robinson's "off-season" could best be described as hectic.

"What spare time?" Robinson responded when asked what he's been doing. "It's been so busy, I wouldn't even know where to start. The beginning of this summer seems like last year. Now I've started training for my season and I've been working out pretty much every day. I've been running around doing everything you could possibly imagine."

Next summer, Robinson will find himself doing something that, until recently, he couldn't imagine himself doing: making a second appearance as a member of the Olympic team. His spot on the team, along with nine other members of the NBA elite, TC was announced last Saturday.

"I'm excited about that -- that'll be fun," Robinson said. "Just playing with these guys is tremendous. None of us has ever played with each other on a real competitive level in the same type of atmosphere that we'll play in next summer. I've seen these guys play on their own teams in the clutch and I can't imagine having a Michael [Jordan], a Magic [Johnson] and a Larry [Bird] on the same team."

Despite some criticism of the selection of the team -- most notably the omission of Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas -- Robinson said he would not alter the way the team was picked.

"All the guys that made it were tremendous players," Robinson said. "There are other guys that I love that I would put on the team -- I think Joe Dumars is phenomenal, guys like Clyde Drexler . . . there's so many guys you can pick. As far as point guards, I don't think you can go wrong with John [Stockton] and Magic. You talk about two guys that when they handle the ball, everybody's going to listen.

"I don't think they made a mistake. Isiah still has a chance to make it, and a lot of guys still have a chance to make it," Robinson said of the two open slots. "It's a tough decision."

The Olympic team that won the bronze medal in 1988 was considered a failure, but Robinson said he won't be thinking about redemption when he goes to Barcelona.

"That's usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and to be able to come around and get another shot at it is real special," Robinson said. "When they asked me, there was never a doubt in my mind that I wanted to play. I'm not so much interested just because we lost last time. As much as you may be favored, you can't win every time."

Robinson knows the United States will be a heavy favorite in the Olympics, and maybe even more so should the political problems in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia break apart those international basketball powers.

"Obviously when you put a team on the floor with the potential we have, you want the best competition," Robinson said. "I wouldn't want anyone to say we just stepped on everybody because not everybody was there.

"It's a little disappointing, but it doesn't really matter, and it wouldn't matter," he added. "I think we'll just come out and play hard. If I were on any of the other teams, I think I would be real worried."

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