Power Forward – David Robinson

The Admiral steps down to the power forward position in the R Team. Despite standing 7'1”, Robinson was a gazelle who was faster than many of the wings that played in his league. There's no doubt he'd be able to adapt.


The Spurs played the long game in taking Robinson first overall in the 1987 draft. Robinson's remarkable career didn't start until he was 24 years old, due to completing his full 4 years of college, then completing a 2 year Naval commitment. When he did finally arrive, he dominated: 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 3.9 blocks (!) as a rookie.

Robinson's list of accolades is outstanding:

  • 2x NBA champion

  • 10x All NBA

  • 10x All Star

  • 8x All Defense

  • 1995 League MVP

  • 1992 Defensive Player of the Year

  • 1994 scoring champion

  • 1991 rebounding champion

  • 1992 blocks champion


Robinsons' career line of 21.1 points, 10.6 boards, 1.4 steals and 3 blocks speaks to his dominant as a player. The fact that he did it whilst missing his entire early 20's, and later sacrificing his own stats to accommodate the ascension of a young Tim Duncan is remarkable. The only time he didn't play in the All Star game through his first 12 seasons in the league was in 1997 where he only played 6 games all season due to a back injury, and 1999 where the lockout meant the All Star weekend was cancelled.

Robinson was an exciting player to watch. He was a muscular Adonis, with speed and athleticism that were unmatched at the centre position. As was the custom of the day, a 7 footer like Robinson was trained to be a centre and only a centre, despite what skills and physical abilities he may have had. It's interesting to think of what Robinson could have been if we were born 30 years later. He probably would be a Giannis type, but it's conceivable that he could have been a taller Anthony Davis.


Centre – Bill Russell

The R Team is anchored by the greatest winner in the history of the league.

Russell’s 11 championships as a player (the final 2 of those were as player/coach) are unsurpassed and only Phil Jackson, who won 11 of his 13 as a coach, has more rings overall.


Russell was an anomaly in that he played a purely defensive game in perhaps the most offensively friendly era of NBA basketball. He averaged 22.5 rebounds per game for his career as well as 15.1 points, and an incalculable number of blocked shots and steals. What isn’t often recognised about Russell is his outstanding play making ability. He put up 4.3 assists per game over his 13 seasons, and in an era where centres rarely averaged over 3 assists per game, Russell did so on 11 occasions, including a pair of seasons with over 5 assists.

Russell – as he recently reminded us all - was an athletic marvel, who starred in track and field, excelling as a high jumper and 400 meters runner. Luckily for us, basketball was his passion. He revolutionised the way the game is played, by being the first man to dominate the league on defense.

Russell’s honour roll is simply extraordinary:

  • 11x NBA champion

  • 5x League MVP

  • 12x NBA All Star

  • 11x All NBA

  • 4x Rebounding champion

  • All Defensive (the first year of the accolade) in 1969


Like his squad mate Robertson, Russell was and remains an active fighter for social justice; his twitter page is one of the best follows you’ll ever make. It was that acute recognition of the world around him that lead to Russell’s retirement in 1969. He was distraught by the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Vietnam War and openly wondered why he was participating in something as ‘trivial’ as sport. But Russell – ever the winner – went out on a high, leading his ageing and underdog Celtics to a 7 game victory over their great rivals in Los Angeles.