Tributes to ‘extraordinary’ Robert Archibald, who has passed away aged 39
British basketball great Robert Archibald has a died unexpectedly at the age of 39.
The talented centre represented GB 46 times, including at the 2012 Olympic Games and was the only Scot to have played in the NBA, starring for the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Toronto Raptors.
Born in Paisley, Archibald began his basketball journey with Dunfermline Reign before moving to the US to pursue his dreams.
Following an outstanding four-year NCAA career at the University of Illinois, he was drafted to the NBA in 2002. Internationally, he represented Scotland throughout his teenage years before joining the GB programme in 2007.
He went on to feature in EuroBasket campaigns in 2007 – when GB secured promotion to Division A – 2009 and 2011 and at London 2012.
He also played for clubs in Spain – Joventut Badalona, Malaga, Valencia and Zaragoza – as well as in Ukraine and Italy.
Archibald followed in the footsteps of his father, Bobby, who captained Scotland and GB in the 1980s.
British Basketball Federation chairman Maurice Watkins said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of Robert’s passing.
“He was a fantastic ambassador for Scottish and British basketball and will be fondly remembered for his great contribution to the game in our country, his talent and his achievements.”
Kevin Pringle, Chief Executive of Basketball Scotland, said: “The news of Robert’s death is a complete shock to us all. He was a wonderful man and a great friend, as well as being a trailblazer and an inspiration to others. Robert loved the sport and demonstrated what can be achieved through hard work and the right attitude.
“Throughout his extraordinary career he always played with pride and determination, and was always a credit to his country, whether representing Scotland or GB at home or abroad. The basketball community has lost a great role model and a true friend, and the thoughts of the whole community are with his family at this difficult time. We will miss him.”
Former GB teammate and fellow Scot Keiron Achara told BBC Scotland: “To make the NBA is unprecedented. His memory has to live on. His legacy has to be there – to continue to make the dream palpable that some one from Scotland can go on and achieve the highest levels.
“He was the first to give advice. As a team-mate, he was great because he had this willingness to win, but he wanted to win the right way, involving everybody and making sure everybody was playing to the highest standard, at times sacrificing his game.
“He didn’t have to be the most dominant player, he just wanted to win.
“It’s just devastating. I just find it so hard to process that big Arch is gone.”
Former GB captain and teammate of Archibald Drew Sullivan posted on Instagram, saying: “Honestly can’t get my head around the passing of my friend Rob Archibald. We played in Spain for a year together, as well as a number of years together on the national team which also competed at the 2012 Olympics.
“One of the hardest I had the privilege of being around. He always tried to improve our teams. Whether that was sacrificing his own game or offering advice. He was about winning as much as anything or anyone I know. I absolutely loved playing with this guy.
“Only a month younger than myself. It really highlights the important shit, but makes it that much harder to believe he’s now gone.
“Rest easy bro.”