Clifford Robinson: The NBA’s New Ironman

Clifford Robinson: The NBA’s New Ironman

by Matt Rose

Clifford Robinson is playing in his league-leading 17th season and he still looks great doing it.

“Uncle Cliffy,” as his teammates refer to him, was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round of the 1989 NBA draft. Since then, Robinson has played for Phoenix, Detroit, Golden State and has now brought his versatility and shooting touch to the New Jersey.

At 39-years-old, Robinson has played in over 1,200 career games and is regarded around the league as one of the more versatile, defensive-minded and durable players in the game. He credits his durability throughout his career to doing things other than basketball in the off-season.

“I think the fact that I get away from basketball in the off-season has helped me,” he said. “I do a lot of things, like off-road driving for example, to give me time to get away from it so that when I do come back at the beginning of the season, I’m excited about it again.”

This season, Robinson has more to be excited about than just basketball. A former stand-out player at the University of Connecticut, Robinson expressed his enthusiasm about being back on the East Coast.

“I played in the Big East, so this is really the fist time being back in this area where many of my friends that I went to college with and a lot of family can get to see me much easier than when I was out West.”

Having spent the majority of his career on the West Coast, Robinson considers himself fortunate to play for this Nets team, which he believes, has the potential and the pieces to go far in the post-season.

“Playing on this team is great because we have a tremendous group of guys,” Robinson said. “We have three of the top players in the league in Jason [Kidd], Vince [Carter] and RJ [Jefferson], so their ability to create double-teams and things like that, it gives us opportunities out there on the floor to get looks ourselves.”

A former sixth-man of the year in the 1992-93 season, Robinson has always had the ability to realize his role on the team and not only accept it, but excel at it.
“Right now, they’re using me to spot up, knock down jumpers and defend,” he said. “So that’s pretty much what I go in there and do, defend and knock down shots.”

When Robinson goes out on to the court, he believes in one thing and one thing only. “Just play hard,” he said. “Really just go out there and give it your best. You’re not always going to have great games but you can go out there and play hard every night. That’s what I try to do.”

With a positive attitude, a winning team and good health, “Uncle Cliffy,” who is the last remaining player to have played in the 80’s, is shooting for 20 years in the league. Only three players have accomplished that feat in their careers: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis.

“To be able to play that long means a lot to me,” Robinson said. “As long as I can rest in the off-season, I'm going to play.”

Robinson is hopeful that his time here with the Nets is the final stop in his career.

“I don’t want to be moving all over the place for these last few years that I’m going to play. I don’t want to be one stop here and another stop there,” he said. “I would hope that I could finish up with the Nets and retire here in New Jersey.”