The glory. The big endorsements. Patriotism. All would have been good reasons for David Robinson to choose to compete in his third Olympics, but none was the primary factor.
Robinson, one of the greatest centers in basketball history, said he competed in 1996 because "It's a great opportunity to model Christ in front of a lot of people by the way I play and the way I conduct myself."
Robinson's life revolves around serving Jesus Christ, to whom he has given control of his life.
"Every time I step on the court, I think about glorifying God," Robinson says. "I just want to make sure people don't think I'm great, but that they think about how great God is. I want people to realize that I'm not any different from them. By the grace of God I grew seven-feet tall. But the greatest thing about life is not that I'm seven-feet tall (2.133 meters) and can play pro basketball, or that I have a little extra spending money. I wake up and almost cry that God is so good and kind and loves me so much that he gave me three incredible children and an incredible wife. He is the giver of all good things."
In his past two Olympics, Robinson has used his great success in basketball as a platform to tell people about Jesus. He couldn't do that in his first Olympics because he had not yet become a follower of Jesus, but then he realized that his life was incomplete without the Savior.
Now Jesus is more important than all of Robinson's accomplishments, though they are many:
National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player in 1994-95
Two-time Olympic gold medalist, one-time bronze medalist
All-time leading scorer in Olympic history with 270 points
Only male basketball player to appear in three Olympic games (88, 92 & 96)
Former NBA scoring, rebounding and shot-blocking leader
NBA all-defensive first- or second-team seven times
Though immensely successful, it isn't on-court success that drives Robinson; it is his love for Jesus Christ. Robinson wants to tell people about Jesus but more than that, he wants them to see Jesus in him.
"The goal of one who knows Christ should be to love people, to encourage people, to show the love and the light of Christ in their lives. Telling people about Jesus is important, but it's no good without the example. I want the fans to see and know Jesus. I want my teammates to see and know Jesus.
"In the Olympics, I've marveled at how God made so many kinds of people. I've enjoyed seeing the different cultures." Robinson recalls seeing famous athletes of other faiths passing out information about their faith. He was disappointed that the one true God wasn't getting the glory for their success. "I want all of those people to understand that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. I play so that people can see Christ in me."
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