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RIP, Cliff Robinson, 1966-2020

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New Jersey Nets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Cliff Robinson, a key player with the New Jersey Nets when they featured Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, has died. The UConn basketball program made the official announcement about the player Coach Jim Calhoun called his program’s first star. The Buffalo native was 53. In a statement, Robinson’s family said he died of lymphoma, cancer of the lymph system.

Teammates as well as current players posted online tributes shortly after the news was announced.

Robinson was, until Jamal Crawford played in the “bubble,” the oldest player to ever don a Nets uniform. “Uncle Cliffy” joined the Nets at the trade deadline in February 2005 in an exchange with the Warriors for two second rounders. During his two and a half seasons with New Jersey, Robinson averaged 5.8 points and 3.0 rebounds in mostly a bench role before retiring in 2007. Of his 159 Nets games, he started only 14.

He also often took on the opponents’ top scorer, preserving his defensive prowess late into his 30’s. He was the original 3-and-D player. In fact, only three players in NBA history have recorded at least 1,000 blocks, 1,000 steals and 1,000 3-pointers made (in 1,380 games): Robinson, Dirk Nowitzki and Rasheed Wallace.

His glory years, of course, came with Trail Blazers where over an eight-year span, he averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and came up with better than a block and steal per game. During that time, he was an All-Star, Sixth Man of the Year and two-time member of the NBA All-Defensive team.

Robinson became a source of controversy when on May 12, 2006, he was suspended for five games during the NBA playoffs for violating terms of the league’s drug policy for the second time in two seasons. Still, the Nets resigned him that summer.

More recently, he became an advocate for the legalization of marijuana and even started selling cannabis under the “Uncle Cliffy” brand.

Here’s his family statement...