Cliff Robinson

Cliff Robinson

Basketball

The man who made it cool again to wear a headband is now a Hall of Famer. Cliff Robinson, an All-Western New York pick out of Riverside High School, a NIT champion in college and a NBA All-Star, donned that famous accessory during his rookie season with the Portland Trail Blazers and forged an identity that was cemented with playoff appearances in 17 of his 18 years in the NBA.

Despite averaging 22.3 points and a dozen rebounds as a senior at Riverside, Robinson was considered a “very good” high school player, but not a great one. Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun, who was just beginning to establish his identity with the Huskies, saw a gifted athlete who was only beginning to tap his true potential. While with the Huskies, Cliff averaged over 15 points during his four year career against stout Big East talent. He led UConn to the NIT title as a junior and concluded his career ranked fourth in career scoring (currently 8th) with 1,664 points. He was later named to UConn’s All-Century team and had his number “00” recently retired.

The best was yet to come. Selected with the 36th overall pick in the 1989 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Robinson became a permanent fixture in the NBA playoffs. He donned that famous headband during his first year in the league, not as a fashion statement but to simply keep the sweat out of his eyes. The rest, as they say, is history.

During his 18-year stay in the NBA, Robinson made his own history while playing for five teams and establishing himself as an “ironman”, a brilliant reserve, an all-star and the originator of the “Uncle Cliffy” – a victory dance he performed during the 1992 Western Conference Finals. Robinson was a NBA All-Star in 1994, the NBA’s top sixth man in 1993 and twice was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team.

Robinson ranks 8th all-time in games played, and was the tallest player in NBA history to make 1,000 three pointers until being surpassed by Dirk Nowitzki. He finished his career with 19,951 points, good for 35th all-time in NBA history.

Now, that’s cool.