Sixers small forward Robert Covington on the power of perseverance and the surprising place you’ll find him in Philly.
Picture the gangly kid who tries to make his middle school basketball team and fails—each year from fth to eighth grade. Not exactly NBA material, you might think. Unless his name is Robert Covington, now the 76ers shutdown defender and three-point artist. “My parents always taught me that I could never give up on anything— school, sports, whatever,” says Covington. His mom, a manager in a sporting goods store, brought home a hoop and stuck it in their yard in suburban Chicago one day. Covington practiced incessantly and by senior year, he was all-conference at Proviso West High School. It helped that he had grown considerably, from 5’9” as a freshman to 6’9” three years later. He went on to star at Tennessee State University, but again he was overlooked and didn’t get drafted. “I didn’t give up then, either,” says Covington, and so he went to the D-league—the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, as obscure as it could be. But the 76ers gave him a shot the next year, and he hasn’t looked back. In his third season with the team last year, he came in fourth in the NBA Defensive Player-of-the-Year voting, a notch ahead of LeBron James. “is will be an exciting year,” he says. “We don’t think about losing. We are loose.” Covington says he loves Philly because fans are knowledgeable and tough. He often hangs out at Dave & Buster’s, not far from his Northern Liberties home, just to play games with them. “I love how everyone is competitive,” he says. “I mean, I don’t love when they boo, but I know it is because they care. It inspires me to do better.”