SAN ANTONIO — David Robinson became the NBA's most valuable player for the first time Tuesday, easily out-polling Shaquille O'Neal for the league's most prestigious individual honor.
"If he wouldn't have won it, that would have been a surprise," San Antonio teammate Sean Elliott said. "Then the NBA would have had the legitimacy of Don King Productions."
Robinson won the award with 901 points, including 73 first-place votes, from a nationwide media panel, defeating O'Neal, who had 605 points and 12 first-place votes. Karl Malone (532 points), Patrick Ewing (230) and Hakeem Olajuwon (147) completed the top five.
Fifteen players received at least one vote, including Laker Cedric Ceballos, who was picked in fifth place on one ballot.
"This probably is the most important award I've ever won," Robinson said. "The [Olympic] gold medal from '92 is more of a memory than anything. That team was unbelievable, and I think it was a big part of my growth process as a player.
"But this, as an award, tops all of them. If we win a championship, that'll obviously go ahead of this one. But right now, this is the crowning achievement so far of my career, so I'm very, very proud of it.
"Everybody around me was thrilled. My coach [Bob Hill] was almost teary-eyed when he told me. It's a special award. To see reactions like that, it means a lot to you."
Robinson, the former U.S. Naval Academy standout, had already been named first-team all-league in a media vote and first-team all-defense in balloting by coaches. He finished third in scoring, fourth in blocks, seventh in rebounding and 15th in steals and shooting while leading the Spurs to the NBA's best record at 62-20.
The award came a day after Robinson struggled in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Houston Monday night, when he made one of 11 shots from the field through the first three quarters before getting 12 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. The problems came not only against Hakeem Olajuwon, but against seldom-used, 38-year-old Charles Jones, pressed into playing 23 minutes because Olajuwon was in foul trouble.
The Rockets won, 94-93. The second game in the best-of-seven series will be played tonight at the Alamodome.
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Results of the voting for the 1995 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, as selected by a nationwide panel of the media on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis with first-place votes in parentheses:
Player, Team Pts David Robinson, San Antonio (73) 901 Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando (12) 605 Karl Malone, Utah (14) 532 Patrick Ewing, New York (2) 230 Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston (1) 147 Charles Barkley, Phoenix (1) 96 Scottie Pippen, Chicago (1) 83 John Stockton, Utah (1) 47 Gary Payton, Seattle 34 Anfernee Hardaway, Orlando 23 Michael Jordan, Chicago 12 Dennis Rodman, San Antonio 9 Jason Kidd, Dallas 7 Clyde Drexler, Houston 3 Cedric Ceballos, Lakers