NBA's Robinson jumps to financial world, where Dimon calls him 'triple threat'
Robinson's admirers span not only the owners' suites in professional sports but the C-suites at banks and hedge funds. Avenue Capital's Lasry, for instance, called Robinson "unique."
"His desire to do good and his ability to bring disparate people together and work toward a common goal or investment is why Admiral Capital is successful," he said in a statement.
Robinson cautions potential partners that he requires a commitment to community if they're to piggyback on his brand and athletic fame for personal gain.
"I don't mind signing a couple of balls," he said, "but this is not who I am or what I want to get accomplished."
Robinson brings a community-improvement mindset to each transaction. Admiral, for instance, joined with Hilton Worldwide Inc. to start a program that provides on-the-job training for high-school students in lower-income schools.
Admiral Capital has an undisclosed stake in Centerplate Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based company that operates food concessions at sports stadiums and convention centers. It's owned by Kohlberg & Co., the investment firm run by leveraged- buyout pioneer Jerome Kohlberg. Admiral is also working with KKR & Co.'s Academy Ltd. to create opportunities in lower-income communities.
"David has set a standard that is hard for people to reach," says Kathy Behrens, the NBA's executive vice president for social responsibility and player programs, noting that each year the league's community assist award winner receives the David Robinson plaque.
Robinson says he's intent on helping people set a higher standard, which is why he's so passionate about children and education.
Robinson has partnered with IDEA, a network of tuition-free K-12 public charter schools that has sent 100 percent of its graduates to college for six consecutive years. Robinson started one school in San Antonio and wants to have 20 within five years.
"Real success is being able to influence and make things happen," Robinson said. "I don't have any tolerance for things that don't work."
The Spurs of today work just fine, propelled to the franchise's first championship series since its 2007 title by a workmanlike, limelight-eschewing crew that includes 37-year-old Tim Duncan, a two-time Most Valuable Player, as well as Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, a whirling-dervish of a point guard whose shot-clock-beating basket sealed a Game 1 victory.
Much of the team's no-nonsense culture, according to Holt, traces back to Robinson, who says it helps to explain why around San Antonio his fan base rivals that of even Parker.
"Tony has all the young, cute girls," Robinson says. "I have all the moms and grandmothers. People see me as trustworthy, old faithful. I love that."
_ With assistance by Dawn Kopecki in New York.
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