Cliff Robinson, a former draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, has passed away at the age of 53. Both the Trail Blazers and the UConn Huskies confirmed the news on Saturday. No cause of death was released, but Robinson suffered a stroke 2.5 years ago.
Known as Uncle Cliffy, Robinson first entered the NBA in 1989 and went on to play 18 seasons. He spent eight seasons with Portland and earned an All-Star nod. He then went on to play for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets. In 1993, he earned the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award.
The UConn Basketball family mourns the loss of a legendary player and person, Clifford Robinson. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cliff’s family at this difficult time 🙏
Rest In Peace, Cliff. pic.twitter.com/Bp6Z5hbVUb— UConn Men's Basketball (@UConnMBB) August 29, 2020
"The Trail Blazers organization is deeply saddened by the passing of Trail Blazers great Cliff Robinson," the team said in a statement. "We extend our heartfelt condolences to Cliff's family & loved ones. Uncle Cliffy will be greatly missed by the Trail Blazers & all of Rip City."
"We're shocked and saddened by the passing of Clifford Robinson. Clifford was a consummate professional who loved the game and played with an incredible sense of both joy and intensity. We extend our thoughts and prayers to family and friends of 'Uncle Cliffy' during this time," the Golden State Warriors also said in a statement.
Born in 1966, the Buffalo native in Robinson went on to play collegiately at the University of Connecticut. He became a centerpiece of head coach Jim Calhoun's teams in 1985-1989. The team started in the bottom of the Big East but went on to win the 1988 NIT championship. In 2007, the Huskies retired Robinson's No. 00 jersey.
As Calhoun explained, Uncle Cliffy was the team's "first great player" and gave the team legitimacy. He also said that having announcers mention that Robinson attended UConn was a level of exposure that you couldn't pay for. "It's really sad to hear of this because he was one of my kids, my players, a guy I watched grow into a man," Calhoun told The Associated Press.
In his career, Robinson played in 1,380 games. This ranks in the top 15 in NBA history. He also holds a Trail Blazers franchise record with 461 consecutive games played. He also ranks among the team's all-time leaders in blocks (2nd), points (5th), games played (5th), steals (6th), 3-pointers (7th) and rebounds (10th).