An Admiral’s Gratitude

If you missed former San Antonio Spur David Robinson’s acceptance speech into the Basketball Hall of Fame this past September, you missed a model of gratitude. For seven solid minutes, he gave thanks, acknowledging those who helped make the Admiral admirable.

For the sports fan fed up with the showmanship of the age, Mr. Robinson’s humble gratefulness was refreshing. The moment was all about him and yet his deflection of the fame made him all the more famous.

His three sons listened with their mother on the front row. What any boy would give to have a father say to him what Mr. Robinson said to them.

Neither long nor sappy, his from-the-heart remarks came neither from a card nor a teleprompter. Just a few poignant sentences that infused strength and honor because they flowed from a man of noble character.

“So intelligent, so wonderful.” “Man after God’s own heart.” “Natural-born leader.” The boys looked as if they believed him.

And what any woman would give to be doted on like David doted on his “rock and strength.”

“You make me want to be a better man…I love you. I respect you. I admire you.” Of course, the words in the moment made an impact only because of the years of fidelity he has given her.

The Admiral went on to thank his parents, his pastor, his teammates, coaches, and front office organization. He concisely and articulately captured the nut of what each contributed to his success.

“A dream in my heart.” “The seed of faith.” “The masterminds who had more vision and foresight than I did.” “A foundation to live up to and build on.” “[Those who] saw this moment a long time ago.”

The Admiral’s speech had its lighthearted breaks.

“Go Navy.” “Have any of you ever gotten on your knees and prayed for something real hard? Tim Duncan was the answer to my prayer.” “When Coach Lucas made me break George Gervin’s 63-point record, it felt good.”

But it was in all seriousness that Robinson thanked the one who made him seven feet tall and particularly capable of putting a pumpkin in a bushel.

“God has blessed me. He has strengthened me. He has encouraged me.”

The Admiral then prayed for all those who heard his words, from NBA greats Michael Jordan and John Stockton (also inducted into the hall that night) to twelve-year-olds tuning in on ESPN.

“My prayer is that God will walk with you as he has walked with me all through my life.”

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray.

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