Wednesday, 26 August 2015

The Admiral: The David Robinson Story (by Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis)

My rating: 9/10

This is a great book, but it may be divided into two separate parts and this is exactly how I will review it.

I. The David Robinson Story – the years 1966-1991.
This part starts from chapter 2 and it ends in the middle of chapter 13. It is around 80 pages long.

My rating: 10/10

There is a HUGE amount of interesting things about David Robinson. For example I didn't know that he was such an intelligent kid, but there is also a deeper story behind it. Before he was old enough to show his intelligence his parents were worried for whole three YEARS if his brain was OK – as a 6-month baby he got jammed between a bed and a wall in such a way that he was not able to breathe. When his mother found him he was already blue because of the lack of oxygen and he did not start breathing on his own even after she freed him. She saved his life by doing a CPR – she was a nurse and she knew the procedure, but doing something like this on her own little baby was a challenge. Nobody knew how long he had not been breathing, so nobody could tell if his brain was damaged or how much it was damaged.

I was surprised that David Robinson was gifted not only towards basketball, but also many other things like mathematics, electronics or music. He actually chose to study at the Naval Academy in Annapolis for its educational standards, not basketball. Then in the middle of his studies, when it was already clear that he could end up in the NBA, he had to make a decision whether to stay in the Navy or change the college. The stakes were very high because by staying and then graduating from the Naval Academy he would then be required to serve in the Navy for FIVE years instead of playing in the NBA right away. Before he finished his studies it was clear that he would have to serve for only 2 years, but when he made his decision to stay in the Navy it was equally possible that it will be 5 years of service, not 2. Can you imagine any other person making such a decision?

II. The David Robinson Story – the years 1991-2012.
This part consists of chapter 1 (a kind of introduction), the second half of the chapter 13 and the remaining chapters of the book (from 14 to 20) – around 64 pages in total.

My rating: 8/10

Most people know that David Robinson was a truly good person, but I was surprised how much religious he became in the year 1991. And he was not afraid to speak about it in public. This spirited part of his life is emphasized in this part of the book. To me it was not really an issue, but I was somewhat disappointed that basketball was pushed too far into the background. There is most basic info about his NBA achievements and awards, but I was very annoyed that some things were described almost pathetically, for example the San Antonio Spurs' playoffs runs.

This part of the book is interesting for a whole different reason – it's remarkable how truly good a person David Robinson has become, being already an NBA star. Wow!

Please, notice that the things quoted in the chapter 1 are taken out of context and can be wrongly understood – not a good way to start a book. At first they seem like a wishful-thinking, but in later chapters it becomes clear why and in what circumstances David Robinson said such things.

Please, remember that David Robinson is not an example because of what he did as a very famous and rich person, but what values made him to do all those things. It's obvious that a normal person, with normal salary, would never be able to do some things David Robinson did.

Summing up:
The book is AWESOME for David Robinson's fans who are interested in his early years and for people, especially young people, who would like to read about a real superstar who values other things more than wealth and career.

Here are some quotes to give you an idea about the book:

    Soon David's intelligence began to create problems in the classroom. He would finish his work faster than any of the other children and got everything right. But once he was finished, he would distract the other children who were still working.

    One evening when David was five years old, Mr. Robinson had been playing piano with David next to him. Then Ambrose got up and walked into another room. A few moments later he was surprised to hear a familiar tune. David's parents walked in to see David at the piano playing the same song his father had just been playing.
    “David!” his father exclaimed. “How did you learn to play that song?”
    “I just watched you play, Dad” David explained.

    David liked VMI [the Virginia Military Institute] well enough. But he was practically awestruck when he came home from a weekend visit to the Naval Academy [in Annapolis]. “Wow, Mom!” he exclaimed. “The lab set up is better than any college I've visited. They have so much equipment I couldn't believe it. But I can't make up my mind.”

    The physical demands were also tough. To start with, all midshipmen were expected to swim one hundred meters – four lengths of the pool. David couldn't make it. So he was assigned to a swimming class where he had to swim for forty minutes at a time. He also had to dive off a tower thirty feet high. It would take him a while to conquer his fear and learn to make the dive without thinking.

    The classes themselves were tough – thermodynamics, navigation, advanced calculus, physics, computer science and technology, contemporary American literature, advanced computer programming, celestial navigation, advanced numerical analysis, computer data structures, partial differential equations, and economic geography. The homework load nearly overwhelmed him that first term. “Most days we had too much,” David says. “The rest of the time we had way too much.”

    But they quickly noticed how graceful and athletic he was. His roommate Hootie Leibert recalls a required three-week course in gymnastics. “David was so big I didn't think he could do it. But after the rest of us looked bad, he got up on the parallel bars and started making these fancy moves and doing all sorts of stuff. It only took him a week to do everything required to get an A in the course.

    That was it. David had made his decision. He had chosen academics over sports.
    David never anticipated the reaction. He was praised in speeches and editorials all over America for his character. People were more impressed than ever. Here was a young man who chose commitment, loyalty, learning, and national service over celebrity and wealth.

    Not only had David led the league in scoring in 1994, but he was also the NBA's top rebounder in 1991 and led the NBA in blocked shots in 1992. David and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only two players in NBA history to achieve this trifecta.

    (…) While other franchises plowed through difficult periods of dissension and it's-my-team lip-flapping, nary a word of jealousy between Robinson and Duncan ever became public, if, indeed, any was uttered at all.

    David is also motivated by gratitude and the realization that he has been tremendously blessed. “I've been given ridiculous favor. When you're in a position of influence, with access, you can be a voice. I like to say, 'If you have a strong voice, don't whisper.' ”

(Sunday, 3 April 2016)

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