Trail Blazers players all wore headbands in tribute to Cliff Robinson after he died at 53

Blazers players like Carmelo Anthony honored the great Clifford Robinson, who died at age 53.

By Joel Alderman

The entire Portland Trail Blazers team wore headbands Saturday (Aug. 29) during Game 5 of their playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers to honor Cliff Robinson, who died earlier that day from lymphoma at the age of 53.

The former Blazer played 18 seasons in the NBA, the first eight with Portland, where the 6-foot-10 “Uncle Cliffy” out of the Univ. of Connecticut became known for his trademark headband.

While not oblivious to the turmoil simultaneously going on in Portland, Oregon, the basketball team representing that beleaguered city was playing a game in the NBA bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Although the Trail Blazers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 131-122, and were eliminated from the NBA playoffs three games to one, they fought hard despite being without the veteran Damian Lillard.

Their thoughts and concerns may have been of the rioting, protesting, counter protesting, violence, and yes even killing going on, but the players were also thinking about the former player for the organization who had just died.

To pay tribute to “Uncle Cliffy” all the players wore black headbands, the same way Robinson came to play in his 18 seasons in the NBA. Although he had played for other teams during the last 10 year of his career, his impact on Portland was lasting.

Blazers guard Christian James McCollum (better known as CJ McCollum) told Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, that a member of the TV crew suggested the entire team wear headbands as a way to honor Robinson. McCollum immediately went for the idea but first wanted to make sure the team had enough black headbands for all to wear.

When he was satisfied that there were, he relayed the suggestion to his teammates. They went for it. “With the type of guys that we have, it was an easy decision,” McCollum said.

Carmelo Anthony was already prepared

One Blazers player who did not have to be asked was Carmelo Anthony. The 36-year old Anthony has played that way since goodness knows when. “Wearing the headband was something that I was always intrigued by,” Anthony said. “He (Robinson) was a guy that set that stone from that standpoint.”

Anthony is a 10-time All-Star who entered the league in 2003. When Robinson was named to the All-Star team in 1994, Carmelo was only nine years old.

Not since high school for McCollum

Although Carmelo Anthony always wears a headband, McCollum has not played with one around his head since he was at GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio.

“I was glad to be able to rock it,” said CJ, who in addition to being a player is known as a philanthropist.

McCollum, had never met Robinson but he had heard stories about how well he treated fans and how he was regarded in the Portland community.

The coach was impressed

“He (Robinson) will never be forgotten for what he brought to the game, his approach to the game and what he brought to the city of Portland and the Portland organization,” said coach Terry Stotts.

“I thought it was a great tribute. I was proud of our guys to do that.”

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