Robinson Must Fulfill Obligation to Navy

David Robinson will have to fulfill his obligation to the Navy before he can begin a professional basketball career and thus will not be playing this season, the secretary of the Navy said Thursday.

Robinson, an officer in his second year of active duty, said he accepted the ruling by Navy Secretary William L. Ball III and looked forward “to serving the remaining 6 months on active duty . . . with pride.”

An All-American while at the U.S. Naval Academy, Robinson played with the U.S. Olympic basketball team. After the Olympics, he petitioned Ball to be released from active duty before completing his 2-year commitment.

Robinson suggested that in return, the Navy increase his obligation in the Naval Reserve. His active-duty obligation was reduced from 5 to 2 years before his graduation from the academy.


Robinson, who has an 8-year, $26-million contract with the San Antonio Spurs, hoped to begin his pro career this season instead of waiting until next. His 2-year active-duty commitment to the Navy expires on May 17, 1989.

Ball, however, decided that he was not going to tamper with current Navy policies regarding athletes, said one source, asking anonymity.

Robinson is assigned to the Navy’s Trident submarine base at Kings Bay, Ga., as a civil engineering officer.