This is a picture of the Basketball Hall of Fame. In front of the building are the words: Alvin Robertson Hall of Fame

Alvin Robertson Hall Of Fame? No Way. Here’s Why

Alvin Robertson has a fairly strong case for the Hall of Fame based on his career statistics and accomplishments. But he will never make the Hall because of his serious criminal record, which includes arrests for domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Is Alvin Robertson a Hall of Fame Player? 

Alvin Robertson was a dominant defensive player who was pretty decent on offense as well. 

Games PointsAssistsReboundsT/Ostls

* Robertson is the NBA’s all time leader in steals per game. 

NBA players usually make the Hall of Fame based on three criteria. 

One criteria is winning. Winning can help borderline Hall of Fame players like Dennis Johnson to  cross the line into Hall of Famers.  

Winning can also help players like Robert Horry,  who would normally have no chance based on their statistics, to get real consideration. 

A second criteria for Hall of Fame selection is career awards and accomplishments. These are things like winning MVP’s, making All Star games or being chosen for All NBA or All NBA Defensive teams. 

The third criteria for Hall of Fame selection is career statistics.

In general, these Hall of Fame criteria operate on a sliding scale. You need the right mix. 

Players like John Stockton who set all-time records easily get in the Hall of Fame even though they never won a title. 

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John Stockton Poster

Other players with great career accomplishments, like Charles Barkley, also don’t need to win a title to make the Hall of Fame. 

Meanwhile, players who win a lot but are role players, like the aforementioned Big Shot Bob Horry  or Steve Kerr, don’t make the Hall of Fame simply because they won titles.  

They did not do enough as individual players to qualify. 

So there is a balance between winning, career accomplishments and career statistics that generally qualifies players for the basketball Hall of Fame. 

Below, I’ll take a look at  Alvin Robertson’s case for the Hall of Fame in all three areas. 

Did Alvin Robertson Win in the NBA? 

Robertson’s weakest criteria for the Hall of Fame is winning. 

He was the Spurs first round pick  in 1984. 

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Alvin Robertson Card

Robertson joined the NBA after winning Olympic Gold on a team featuring future Dream Teamers Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing and, of course, Michael Jordan. 

The Spurs he joined were not very good. This was the era between the Iceman George Gervin and the Spurs dynasty era that would begin with the arrival of David Robinson the year after Alvin Robinson left San Antonio. 

In some ways, Robertson deserves credit for the start of the dynasty because he was on the 1986-1987 Spurs who finished fourth from the bottom of the NBA. They went on to win the draft lottery and the right to pick the Admiral. 

But Alvin Robertson was not the cause of all the Spurs’ losing. He was the Spurs leading scorer and easily their best player at that point. 

Robertson played five seasons in San Antonio and never got above the .500 record his rookie team produced. 

With the addition of the Admiral in 1989 the Spurs won 56 games, but Alvin Robertson was shipped off to Milwaukee before the start of that season in a trade for Terry Cummings. 

Robertson’s Bucks team made the playoffs his first two years, but were dispatched in the first round. 

They did not make the playoffs the next season and Robertson was moved along to Detroit after that. Robertson’s lone Pistons season ended without making the playoffs as well. 

He missed two years with back injuries before making a comeback attempt in the initial season for the Toronto Raptors. It should come as no surprise that they did not win much either. 

In the end, Alvin Robertson did not do much winning in the NBA and can’t use it as a reason for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. 

Alvin Robertson’s Career Awards & Accomplishments

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Alvin Robertson Bucks Card

Alvin Robertson did win some major awards and had the kind of career accomplishments that often make a player a contender for the Hall of Fame. 

He had an incredible second season in the NBA winning both the inaugural Most Improved Player Award and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1986.

DPOY was a relatively new award at that point – it was the fourth season it was awarded. The tendency to mostly pick centers or other bigs was not yet cemented. 

Fellow shooting guard Sidney Moncrief won the first two DPOYs while Mark Eaton was the first of many centers to win in 1985.

Robertson also made his first of four All Star appearances in 1986. He would make the team the next two seasons in San Antonio and his first year in Milwaukee as well.

Alvin Robertson was also named All NBA 2nd team in that incredible 1986 season. While he would never again make an All NBA team, he did make several All Defensive teams. 

He was twice named to the NBA All Defensive 1st team and 4x made the NBA All Defensive 2nd team. 

Interestingly, Robertson’s dominant 1986 season found him on the NBA All Defensive 2nd team despite being the Defensive Player of the Year. 

Alvin Robertson’s career accomplishments and awards are such that, normally, you would think he’d get strong consideration for the Hall of Fame. 

He made 6 All NBA Defensive teams, 4 All Star teams, one All NBA 2nd team, won an Olympic Gold Medal and won Defensive Player of the Year. 

If you listed those accomplishments for a player and said he made the Hall of Fame, I would not be surprised. 

Alvin Robertson’s Career Statistics (And Player Comparisons)

With winning working against Robertson’s case for the Hall of Fame and his awards working in favor of it, you would think statistics might be the deciding factor. 

Of course, that is probably not true – but we’ll deal with that later. Let’s look at Robertson’s stats for now. 

Alvin Robertson is one of the greatest thieves in NBA history: he is the all time leader in steals per game and steal percentage. Those records make a pretty strong case for Hall of Fame inclusion. 

In addition, Robertson is one of four players in NBA history with a quadruple double: at least ten in each of four counting statistics in a single game. 

Robertson is the only guard to join three centers accomplishing the feat. Each of them had 10 or more points, rebounds, assists and blocks. Robertson is the only player to ever have 10 or more points, rebounds, assists and steals in a game.

He accomplished the feat on February 18, 1986  with 20 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 10 steals.

Let’s look at some other statistics. Here again are Robinson’s career counting stats:

Games PointsAssistsReboundsT/Ostls

For comparison’s sake, here are Dennis Johnson’s career counting stats:

Games PointsAssistsReboundsT/Ostls

Finally, let’s look at an obvious Hall of Famer. Here are Gary Payton’s career stats: 

Games PointsAssistsReboundsT/Ostls

I chose these players deliberately. All three players were guards known first for their defense.  Payton’s numbers are slightly better as a whole, but especially in games played. 

Payton had a long career and it was mostly based around being a great perimeter defender. He also grabbed a couple NBA Championships later in his career. 

Dennis Johnson also made the Hall of Fame, but it did not come until after his death in 2007. He was inducted posthumously in 2010 despite having retired in 1990.

While many Boston fans (including this one) see the delay in Johnson’s Hall of Fame induction as completely mistaken,  it indicates that his case for the Hall of Fame was at least somewhat marginal. 

You’ll notice that Robertson’s per game stats are better than Johnson in every category (except turnovers). 

Of course stats are just one category, and Johnson and Payton were both winning players with great accomplishments as well, but Alvin Robertson’s per game stats line up nicely with these Hall of Famers. 

Let’s look at advanced stats to see if the counting stats are fooling us in some way. 

PlayerPERWin SharesBox Plus/Minus
Alvin Robertson17.052.12.6
Dennis Johnson 14.682.6.7
Gary Payton18.9145.53.3

These stats are pretty interesting. 

All three are statistics that attempt to quantify everything a player does on the floor for their team.

All these types of stats have some flaws, so it is best not to rely too heavily on any one of them. But when you look at several of these stats at one time, you usually start to notice some differences in tiers of players. 

Here, it is clear that Gary Payton was at another level. 

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Gary Payton Poster

Career win shares are impacted by the length of your career and by how good a player’s teams are. Of course, one reason a team may be good is how much the player helps them win. Payton made his teams better. 

The Glove also had the best PER and box plus/minus. Gary Payton is clearly the best of these three players and that is not a controversial opinion. 

But aside from win shares, Alvin Robertson had better career advanced stats than Dennis Johnson. 

Johnson played alongside Hall of Famer Jack Sikma when he won his first title in Seattle. He was also joined by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and other Hall of Famers in Boston. 

Robertson was the best player on horrible teams in San Antonio and had good, but not great, teammates in Milwaukee. It is hard to pile up win shares when your teams lose so much.

If Dennis Johnson had made the Hall of Fame based on stats, then Alvin Robertson would have a great case as well. 

But DJ didn’t make it based on stats. He made it based on winning and accomplishments. And he didn’t live to see his induction. He had to wait. 

The reason for DJ’s extended wait for the Hall is similar to the reason Alvin Robertson will never make it. 

DJ had a domestic violence arrest in 1997, seven years after he retired. He was charged with aggravated assault. The charges were later dropped and he entered counseling.

Some believe that the arrest contributed to DJ’s extended wait for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, as he was a somewhat marginal candidate already. 

Alvin Robertson’s criminal record is much more serious and extensive than DJ’s.

Alvin Robertson’s Arrest Record: The Reason He Will Never Make the Hall of Fame

If Alvin Robertson played in the modern era, it is likely his career would have been over much sooner. 

Robertson mostly had good relationships with his teammates, but he also had an edge. He had a temper that was not to be messed with and that he could not always control.

Opposing players were warned not to start with him. Veteran teammates made sure to tell nice-guy trash talker Reggie Miller, the Knick Killer, not to mess with Robertson.

Robertson had a dust up with Spurs coach Larry Brown that was part of the reason he was shipped off to Milwaukee.

In 1993 he choked a member of the Pistons front office and had to be pulled off by teammates. 

Robertson’s worst problems happened outside the game and the arena. He spent a month in jail in the summer of 1990 for a domestic violence conviction. Robertson was convicted of assaulting his then-wife. 

He had a violent incident in a nightclub within a month of facing the judge in his domestic violence arrest.

In 1994 he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges that involved the unwanted groping of a woman. He got probation. 

In 1995, he was again arrested. He broke into the apartment of a woman with whom he had a long-time involvement. He was married to another woman at the time. 

After breaking in, it was reported that Robertson assaulted the woman in front of her child and stole some items from the apartment.

He was later convicted of burglary and got probation for the third time. 

Just a few months later he was accused of assaulting a woman in the SkyDome Hotel in Toronto and was arrested again. The charges were dropped when the woman did not appear at trial.

The NBA did not punish him for any of these incidents. The league did not have a domestic violence policy at the time. 

In hindsight, there was a complete lack of understanding of domestic violence in our country at the time. 

Robertson was allowed to play in the Raptors franchise’s first-ever game just days after the SkyDome incident. He scored the first basket in team history. 

In a world with any understanding of the seriousness of domestic violence, Robertson’s career would have been cut short after any of these incidents. 

While his basketball career ended after his lone year in Toronto, Robertson’s career in crime continued.

He was arrested in 2002 for sexual assualt. While the woman recanted, he was still sentenced to prison time for a probation violation. 

He faced another arrest in 2007 for domestic violence and faced his most serious charges yet in 2010. He was arrested in a case involving child sexual assault and trafficking. 

Robertson was cleared of those charges. But he faced another arrest in 2018 for violating a protective order.

Alvin Robertson has a violent criminal record that will keep him from ever getting serious consideration for any sports-related honors – including the Hall of Fame. 

Summary: Alvin Robertson Hall of Fame

Alvin Robertson’s advanced stats say that he had a better career than some other defensive-minded Hall of Famers. He has pretty solid career accomplishments including a Defensive Player of the Year award and the NBA career record for steals per game. But Robertson’s violent criminal record is extremely likely to keep him from any serious consideration for the basketball Hall of Fame.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Adapted from:

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