David Robinson turns 49 today. To celebrate his birthday, we take a look back at the time he scored 71 points on the final day of the regular season to win the scoring title.
On the last day of the 1993-94 season, Robinson needed 33 points to pass Shaquille O’Neal for the scoring title. In the final regular season game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Robinson didn’t just pass Shaq, he became the fourth player in NBA history to score more than 70 points in a game (the others: Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and David Thompson. Kobe Bryant has since joined that list).
The final stat line for Robinson against the Clippers: 71 points, 26-for-41 from the field, 18-of-25 from the free throw line, 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots in 44 minutes of play. The highlights:
With a historical finish to the season, Robinson ended the year averaging 29.8 points per game compared to Shaq’s 29.3 points. Despite the taking his first — and only — scoring title while leading San Antonio to 55 wins in the regular season, the Spurs lost in the the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz.
Coming up short of the NBA Finals had become a recurring theme in Robinson’s career. The Spurs made the playoffs for seven straight seasons from 1989-90 to 1995-96 but failed to get out of the first round three times, making it to the Conference Finals just once during that span.
In the 1996-97 season, Robinson played in just six games due to injuries, and the Spurs fell to 20-62, but ended up winning the Draft Lottery. The Spurs used the first overall pick to select a forward from Wake Forest named Tim Duncan.
In Duncan’s second season, the Spurs finally broke through and made it to the NBA Finals, where they defeated the New York Knicks in five games. Robinson was no longer the number one option on the team, but he still contributed 15.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 2.4 blocks per game in the playoffs. In his tenth season, Robinson was finally an NBA champion.
He would win another title with Duncan in 2003 before retiring that off-season. In 2009, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, with two rings and a nice memory of the time he scored 71 points in the final game of the season to etch himself into the NBA record books.
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