Cliff Robinson, ex-UConn star, top NBA 6th man, dies at 53

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2004 file photo, Golden State Warriors' Clifford Robinson talks with fans during a foul shot in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland.  Robinson, an early star on UConns rise to power and longtime top sixth man in the NBA, has died. He was 53. Robinsons death was confirmed by UConn, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020.  (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2004 file photo, Golden State Warriors' Clifford Robinson talks with fans during a foul shot in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland. Robinson, an early star on UConns rise to power and longtime top sixth man in the NBA, has died. He was 53. Robinsons death was confirmed by UConn, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Cliff Robinson guided UConn out from the bottom and almost helped take the Portland Trail Blazers to the top.

He was one of the NBA's best sixth men, a versatile player who became a predecessor of the modern center.

Not bad for a guy who was warned he might not even get a second season in Storrs.

“He averaged five points as a freshman and I remember I told him, ’You have two choices: I can kick you out if you keep doing what you do, or I’m going to watch you play a lot of years in the NBA,'" former UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. “He chose the latter, which was good.”

Robinson died Saturday at 53, remembered as much for his personality as his skills by the teams he played for during an 18-year career.

“His personality and energy were unmatched, and his contributions on the court were unmistakable, helping the Trail Blazers into the playoffs each of his eight seasons with the team,” the Blazers said.

"His streak of 461 consecutive games played with the Trail Blazers still stands as a franchise record, which is a testament to his hard work and dedication to the team. . ... Uncle Cliffy will be greatly missed by the Trail Blazers and all of Rip City.”

No cause of death was given, though Calhoun said Robinson had a stroke 2 1/2 years ago and had went into a coma last week.