- The Washington Times - Monday, February 17, 2003

Michael Jordan is receiving a massive hug and kiss from the NBA, aptly symbolized by the R-rated gown worn by Mariah Carey at the All-Star Game in Atlanta.
The reaction is understandable, if not overdone, and not to question the fashion courage of Carey.
She tried to sing, if anyone noticed, and the players, Jordan included, resisted the urge to stick a dollar bill in the low-cut area of her gown.
So here you have this mushy goodbye around Jordan, and there you have this muted goodbye around David Robinson.
In case you missed it, the former Naval Academy star also is retiring from the NBA after the season, which is no small parting.
Robinson is one of the good guys of the NBA, however unfashionable that may be in the age of packing heat, threatening referees and spreading the seed of joy to paternity-suit-seeking groupies.
Robinson never has had a whiff of scandal or controversy about him, not a bad word at all, just a sturdy professionalism that revealed his strong character.
Robinson never pretended to be a bad man, possibly because of his military background. He undoubtedly knows the difference between a genuinely bad man in the military and a player who is merely posturing after dunking the ball in the first quarter.
Robinson qualifies as bland in the NBA, which is too bad for the NBA and a culture that neglects to take a bar of soap to the mouth of Eminem and his kind.
Robinson sees himself as one of the lucky ones, even blessed, the accidental superstar who grew seven inches after graduating from Osbourn Park High School in Manassas in 1983. As he matured physically, mentally and spiritually, he felt an obligation to comport himself with dignity and contribute something to society beyond being entertaining on a basketball court.
Robinson started "giving back to the community" a long time ago.
Right. They all "give back to the community." You know how that usually goes. The "give-back-to-the-community" types show up to a school, hand out a few T-shirts, pose for a few photographs and call it a day. If they can save just one kid with a T-shirt, they feel pretty good about themselves.
Robinson, though, is the embodiment of that philosophy. He and his wife, Valerie, started the David Robinson Foundation in 1992 and have donated $9 million of their funds to create the Carver Academy, an independent school that serves at-risk youths in the pre-kindergarten through 8th grades in San Antonio.
This is a little different from patting a few wide-eyed tots on the head. This is an unyielding commitment. This is hard work, completed mostly in private. The satisfaction is in the undertaking and not in what others think.
Robinson is a thinker who sees a higher purpose with his life. He is a Christian, after all, which is another peculiar dimension with him that is at odds with the secular-minded marketplace. He is a goody-two-shoes or, worse, part of the extremist element trying to impose their sense of morality on the misguided.
The poor guy. He lacks panache. He is not angry with the world. He probably can't rap, either. What is wrong with him? How did he happen?
No, the NBA is not pausing to celebrate Robinson in Jordan-like fashion, which is too bad. No, Robinson is not in Jordan's class as a player, although he is a certain Hall of Fame inductee who is just as much a champion off the court as on it.
His example is what you should resonate with the masses, as opposed to a player starring in another slick shoe commercial.
Robinson is what the NBA can be on its best days: a quality player, teammate, person and citizen.
Tim Duncan provided one small test after he joined the Spurs in the 1997-98 campaign. Robinson did not whine about minutes or shot attempts. He did not say, "This is my team." It is almost comical to think of Robinson responding in that manner. Instead, Robinson embraced the talented newcomer, and one year later, he had his NBA championship ring.
You tend to forget the sacrifice. You tend to forget who Robinson was. He was one of the best, the NBA's MVP in 1995. His 1994 season was a statistical monster: 29.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 3.31 blocks and 1.74 steals.
Robinson should have been in Atlanta, standing alongside Jordan, completing the affair.
To be honest, Robinson is what many in the media ask Jordan to be: less a corporate icon and more a grass-roots inspiration to the disadvantaged.

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