19th May 21:30
5 Oh! Counting through a career
Fifty is officially retired. Fifty memories are not.
Buck Harvey, San Antonio Express-News
1. Eyes straight ahead, shoulders back, arms stiff at his side. For
over 1,100 national anthems.
2. An MVP award as his career zenith? He admits years later, because
the Spurs lost in the Western Conference finals that season, he put
the trophy in a closet.
3. Unused and still fresh for another 14 seasons: His right hand.
4. The distorted reputation that, if extended today, would include
third-graders at the Carver Academy, reacting to what they believe to
be a lack of discipline at the school, calling him "soft."
5. In his gym bag: Socks, shoes, shorts, keyboard.
6. Wondering out loud in the summer of 1997 how good Tim Duncan would
be as a rookie.
7. Admitting more loudly, after just one pickup game against Duncan
later in the summer of 1997, that the rookie could already do things
he couldn't do.
8. A half-dozen golf clubs in one large hand, outfitted in giant,
white overalls. Then caddying for Corey Pavin during the Masters
9. Swept by Shaq.
10. Sweeping Shaq.
11. Pushing in his hernia at the Atlanta Olympics, then leading the
U.S. in scoring in the gold-medal game.
12. Retiring, too: The infamous floating particle.
13. Years ago, when asked about one of his "Mr. Robinson's
Neighborhood" commercials that included a classical pianist, he looked
over a reporter's shoulder to make sure the man's name had been
spelled right. It hadn't.
14. Grabbing 17 rebounds in his finale? Elway in sneakers.
15. Pushed out in front of cameras, his teammates and coaches waaaay
behind him, he risks his image by going public in pursuit of a
chartered jet for the team.
16. Not trashing Tark when he could have.
17. Being told he needed to talk more to refs, then racing to rage at
one that same night, only to be ejected.
18. A 30-inch waist.
19. Biceps about as large.
20. Standing in the locker room after a bad loss, facing the media,
21. "Saint David" spread across a Sports Illustrated cover.
22. Unfolding out of a private jet, wearing shorts and a long-sleeved
shirt, seeing San Antonio for the first time.
23. His oldest son at a playoff news conference podium, then about 4
years old, resting his head on one of Dad's massive arms.
24. Residence in Hawaii, residence in Aspen. Home in San Antonio.
25. Taking less money on his second contract. Taking more on his last.
26. Becoming the first NBA player to use the word "impunity" in a
27. Playing too few games with Maurice Cheeks and Doc Rivers as his
point guard. Playing too many with Rod Strickland.
28. Stretching, extending, his left arm forces Latrell Sprewell to
miss. The Knicks would not get another chance in 1999.
29. The power within: Stuck with one of Bob Hill's worst ideas, he
still plays along on stage in a Tony Robbins seminar.
30. Avery Johnson perched on a shoulder like a parrot. "5 Oh! 5 Oh!"
31. Saving the franchise by signing in 1987. By winning the first
championship to create momentum for the SBC Center. By convincing
Duncan to stay.
32. The game didn't matter. The moment came against the Clips. But 71
33. With a saxophone. On a hotel rooftop at night. With the Barcelona
34. Unconscious, dropped by a Karl Malone elbow.
35. Reborn but needing to recharge the battery: Talking to a reporter
for an hour on his cell phone on a drive to Austin in the early '90s
about his new-found faith.
36. Donating more money. Than any pro athlete. Ever.
37. After a tense timeout late in a game, going back to the bench to
tell Larry Brown that cursing in the huddle isn't necessary.
38. Cursing himself. Three times, maybe four.
39. "Who's Soft Now?" spread across another Sports Illustrated cover.
40. Shocked because Dennis Rodman dared to eat pizza with the crust
41. With the commercial shoot over, shocked at just about everything
42. Still up in the air? Dream Shake nightmares.
43. Able to win the league's computer-formulized award a record five
44. Able to understand how the computer worked.
45. In his physical prime, on a dare from John Lucas, walking on his
hands across half the court to get the Spurs out of practice.
46. After his physical prime, unable to bend over to tie his shoes.
47. Never to be repeated: A pro athlete with enough confidence in his
masculinity to list "The Little Mermaid" as his favorite movie.
48. Monday night, after being asked for the one word that would sum up
his life thus far. "If I hoped there was a word," he said, "faithful."
49. Six coaches, three buildings, two rings, one city.
50. Representing David Robinson, the number means a lot.