Former hoops journeyman Robinson returns for second round of ABF

Larry Robinson

WINCHESTER – Larry Robinson’s professional basketball career took him all across the United States and to all corners of the globe. Twelve years after retiring from the sport, he came across the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival last spring and simply had to make a return trip for this year’s 90th edition of the event.

“I’m a veteran at this now. I told my wife … we’re gonna buy a home and just move here to Winchester,” Robinson, a special guest at The Bloom for the second straight year, said Friday with a laugh.

“It’s awesome. Last year was just amazing. I kind of begged and pleaded to come back a second year.”

Robinson, who brought his wife Flecia along for the fun and festivities this year to show off just how much fun there is to be in the Shenandoah Valley during the annual weeklong event, said he was awed by his initial foray into The Bloom and the festival’s small-town feel.

“Being from Shreveport, Louisiana, small town, I could feel the togetherness of how so many people volunteered to put this together,” Robinson said. “It’s such some heritage here. I get a chance to meet so many people. But just the whole festival, what it brings. It’s like blowing life into a community, and I just felt that. I was overwhelmed when I got in the parade (last year) and the car was going down and every turn there was like more and more people.”

It shouldn’t be surprising that Robinson appreciates the chance to get out and experience the various forms of entertainment Apple Blossom has to offer – traveling has been in his blood since he began his professional basketball career in 1990.

From then until 2002, Robinson played intermittently for eight different NBA teams while also competing in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), International Basketball League (IBL), United States Basketball League (USBL) as well as overseas in France, Spain, the Philippines, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.

Robinson – who played for spurts in the NBA with Washington, Golden State, Boston, Houston, Vancouver, Cleveland, Atlanta and New York – never stuck long in one location, but he holds no qualms about a playing career that sent him all over the globe.

“I wear the title ‘journeyman’ with honor because it has taken me to a lot of places, basketball has,” he said. “I mean I can speak four different languages because of basketball. I won an NBA championship with the Rockets (in 1994) because of basketball. It has set me up for my life now because I’m able to do a lot of the things I’m doing today because of it. I have no regrets on it, from the moment I stepped on the court for my first game with the Bullets.”

Robinson said the best team he ever played for was the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Rockets. His favorite arena was Madison Square Garden. His fondest memory was the time he had to guard Michael Jordan during his rookie season with the Washington Bullets in 1990.

“First game at the Capital Centre, 22 years old and I’m in the starting lineup. The Bulls had just won their first championship and Michael and his guys come to town. I was pretty stoked about that,” Robinson recalled.

“I was nervous as can be. There weren’t a lot of cellphones going on then. I also remember the vets … they called me the night before and said listen, if you hold Michael to 60 points we might have a chance to win this game,” he continued with a laugh. “Just being on the court, I finally realized that all the hard work through college and the offseason, I had finally made it. And I felt like I belonged.”

Robinson then proceeded to rattle off some statistics from that game as if it had just happened.

“We actually beat them 104-103. Michael had 28 points that night. I scored 14 points that night. I played about 27, 28 minutes. Even when I go speak to kids today and we talk about that, I think that game solidified my career because general managers knew who I was – some kid from Centenary College in Shreveport, but that night I was a starting two-guard in the NBA and was respected by other players because I didn’t run from the competition.”

Robinson, who said he is now the vice president of the electronics company Eagle Strike Entertainment, credits his basketball career, however inconsistent, with preparing him for life outside of sports.

“It gave me a feel of making people feel happy, and I’m all about being a happy person. Basketball gave me an outlet to share with people my talents and I take that with me everywehere I go, even in business today,” he said.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com