words // Brandon Richard
images // Nick DePaula
David Robinson was the catalyst for everything taking place tonight.
It was he who reestablished the San Antonio Spurs as a Western Conference powerhouse in the 90s, leading the team to a 35-win increase as a rookie in the 89-90 season. Through 1996, Robinson was a 7-time All-Star, 4-time First Team All NBA, '92 Defensive Player of the Year, '95 NBA MVP and 2-time Olympic gold medalist. However, his dominance in the paint came to a screeching halt when he suffered a bulging disc in his back and broke his left foot, prematurely ending his 96-97 season.
With 'The Admiral' missing in the middle, the Spurs posted a dismal 20-62 record, landing in the Draft Lottery for the first time since his arrival. Despite having the third best odds, the Spurs lucked out in winning the lottery. The prize? A senior prospect out of Wake Forest by the name of Tim Duncan.
Two seasons and a lockout later, the new 'Twin Towers' led the Spurs to their first ever appearance in the NBA Finals, where they beat the New York Knicks 4-1 to win the championship. Duncan was named Finals MVP, but it was Robinson's wisdom and selflessness that truly sparked the beginning of San Antonio's dynasty. A few critics insisted on adding an asterisk to the lockout season championship, so the duo went out and won another in 2003 before Robinson called it quits.
With Game 1 tipping off in a few hours, today's Jersey Spotlight is the Mitchell & Ness Hardwood Classics version of the Spurs jersey worn by Robinson in the '99 Finals. Classic block lettering and the official patch on the chest to boot.
Watch Game 1 tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST on ABC and shop a variety of Hardwood Classics NBA jerseys at mitchellandness.com.