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Unexpected Journey From the 2020 NBA Finals

Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, United States, July 2017. Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

With the Los Angeles Lakers beating out the Miami Heat on October 11th to claim the 2020 NBA Championship, there are a variety of things to reflect on that came from this wacky season. With all the uncertainty of today, it was refreshing to watch two teams go toe-to-toe for a place in the basketball record books. However, the statistic, 0 Coronavirus cases, was most impressive.

With the likes of superstars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who have had the spotlight on them since they heard their name on draft night, one might assume that all NBA players have been at this level since a very young age. However, this is not the case, as players like Duncan Robinson of the Miami Heat are living proof that it is now how you start, but how you finish.

Robinson, who was born in a small town in New Hampshire with a population of fewer than 1,000 people, hasn’t always had the spotlight he has today. Graduating, he didn’t have a single college offer. To try to gain college exposure, Robinson would opt to attend Phillips Exeter Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire. At Exeter, although he had a tremendous development in his game and led his team to a 28-1 record, division schools still didn’t want to take a chance on him. He instead elected to attend Williams College, a Division III powerhouse school in Massachusetts.

After a dominant freshman season at Williams, leading his team to the national championship in Division III, the coach that recruited Robinson took a job at another program, leaving him with the age-old question: should I stay or should I go? Due to the traction, he picked up at Williams, he was able to transfer to the University of Michigan, a school with a rich academic and athletic history, winning 14 Big 10 conference titles and even a national championship in 1989.

This is where Robinson’s traction would really start to pick up. Due to NCAA transfer regulations, he would have to sit out his sophomore season. However, he did not let this minor setback stop him from making an impact when he would eventually be able to play again. Robinson would go on to have a stellar 3 seasons at Michigan, averaging 9.3 points a game, shooting a sizzling 41% from 3. Unfortunately, this performance would not be enough to hear his name called on draft night. However, the Miami Heat and their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, were willing to take a chance on the underdog from New Hampshire, signing him to a two-way deal.

In his first season with the Sioux Falls, Robinson dramatically boosted his numbers from Michigan, averaging 21.4 points and a 48.3% from deep, which was a 7% increase from college. After his amazing performance in the G-League, the rest is history.

In just his 1st year playing on an actual NBA roster, Robinson would be a crucial factor in the Miami Heat’s road to the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Although they lost the series 4-2, Robinson had multiple big games, including a scorching 26 points in game 5. If this performance of Duncan Robinson’s first season in the NBA is any indication of what is to come, basketball fans all around the world are in for a treat.

From a town of roughly 900 people to compete in one of the biggest stages in global sports, there is something we can all take away from this inspiring story. You are not defined by what is given to you in life. Instead, you are defined by what you choose to do with what you are given.

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