Cliff Robinson guided UConn out from the bottom and almost helped take the Portland Trail Blazers to the top. He was one of the NBA's best sixth men, a versatile player who became a predecessor of the modern center. Not bad for a guy who was warned he might not even get a second season in Storrs. "He averaged five points as a freshman and I remember I told him, 'You have two choices: I can kick you out if you keep doing what you do, or I'm going to watch you play a lot of years in the NBA,'" former UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "He chose the latter, which was good." The AP reports that Robinson died Saturday at 53, remembered as much for his personality as his skills by the teams he played for during an 18-year career.
"His personality and energy were unmatched, and his contributions on the court were unmistakable, helping the Trail Blazers into the playoffs each of his eight seasons with the team," the Blazers said. "His streak of 461 consecutive games played with the Trail Blazers still stands as a franchise record." No cause of death was given, though Calhoun said Robinson had a stroke 2 1/2 years ago. Robinson helped the Blazers reach the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. Clifford Robinson was born on Dec. 16, 1966, in Buffalo, New York, and became the centerpiece of Calhoun's early teams at UConn. Robinson was also the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year in 1993 and made his lone All-Star appearance the following year. At 6-foot-11, he had the size of a center but was a skilled outside shooter.
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