A relatively unheralded prospect coming into the NBA Draft, Clifford Robinson was selected in the second round by the Portland Trail Blazers. After working his way from the end-of-the-bench to NBA Sixth Man of the Year, to consistent starter, to NBA All-Star in Portland, the swing forward signed a free agent contract with the Suns in 1997.
After the heights of the Charles Barkley era in the early-to-mid-1990’s, the Suns of the next decade were up-and-down in their success. In 1997-98, Robinson’s first year with the team, they leapt from a .500 team to 56 wins. The Suns easily made the playoffs, but lost in the first round to the San Antonio Spurs. This was the beginning of a bitter battle between the two franchises.
Robinson played four seasons altogether in the desert. Those teams featured young point guard Jason Kidd running something akin to an egalitarian offense. Robinson was one of four players who averaged between 13.5 and 16.9 points per game in 1997-98. The following year, he was one of three to average between 16.4 and 17.0 points per contest.
Throughout his prime in Portland and Phoenix, Robinson was a talented scorer who never hogged the ball. His teams tended to play better when he was on the court. Even at age 34, his final season in Phoenix, he had a positive Box Plus-Minus.
The following offseason, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons. Robinson would end up bouncing around the league as a veteran player, extending his career until he was 40 years old.
Robinson never made an All-Star team while with the Suns ,nor received any season’s end awards. Yet while with the Suns, he made positive contributions every single season. In just four seasons, Robinson racked up 27.4 win shares for the club, 18th all-time in Suns franchise history.