Former NBA All-Star and UConn Great “Uncle” Cliff Robinson Dies at 53

Robinson starred at UConn before having a successful 18-year NBA career

Cliff Robinson Death
Clifford Robinson of the Detroit Pistons watches Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2003 NBA Playoffs on May 10, 2003 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Former NBA All-Star and Sixth Man of the Year Cliff Robinson has died, his family confirmed to Buffalo NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV’s Claudine Ewing. He was 53.

Robinson had a successful 18-year career in the NBA, earning Sixth Man of the Year honor in 1993 and receiving an All-Star nod the following year. He was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1989, and also played for the Phoenix Suns, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, and New Jersey Nets before retiring in 2007. He earned his nickname “Uncle Cliffy” during the 1992 playoffs, when he performed a victory dance that he called by that name.

Robinson played in the NBA playoffs every year of his career minus one, in 2003-2004 with the Warriors. He also was a pioneer of the “stretch four” role that is so popular in the NBA today; he was the tallest player (6’10”) to convert 1,000 three-pointers in his career, until he was joined by Dirk Nowitzki and Rashard Lewis.

Prior to the NBA, Robinson was also a standout at the University of Connecticut. Following the news of his passing, former UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun praised him as the team’s “first great player”:

He was our first great player… he came from a difficult background in Buffalo, I watched him evolve as a man … he was a good man, had a great career, and was instrumental in a lot of the great things that happened at UConn.

Jim Calhoun

Following his NBA career, Robinson made an appearance on the TV show Survivor, as well as taking part in Dennis Rodman’s basketball trip to North Korea in 2014. He also became an advocate for the legalization of cannabis, attributing his longevity in the NBA to cannabis.

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