Spurs legend David Robinson will serve as the honorary chair of San Antonio’s 2020 Gurwitz International Piano Competition in January. 

Robinson, who led the San Antonio Spurs to two national championships during his 14 years on the team, comes from a family with a strong musical background, he said.

“My grandfather taught all my dad and his sisters and brothers how to play music,” Robinson said in an interview with his son, David Robinson Jr., on Oct. 16 that was recorded by Musical Bridges Around the World, which puts on the Gurwitz. “It was something I was expected to learn. And, you know, I think music adds a certain color to your life, that for me, I think I needed that outlet. I’m very engineering-focused, I’m very logical, and I love that creative outlet. It kind of gave me a good balance.”

The Gurwitz will feature 12 pianists from Russia, South Korea, Italy, China, Canada, and the United States. The event begins with a judges showcase performance at the Pearl and continues with four competitive rounds.

As honorary chair, Robinson will attend the Jan. 26 showcase. Musical Bridges advancement director Suhail Arastu said that the organization wanted to bring Robinson’s internationally known brand to the competition as a way to highlight it.

“We really wanted to promote this competition and what it’s going to do for San Antonio, placing a global spotlight on the city,” Arastu said.

“This was an opportunity to combine not only the multidimensional leader that we have in the city [in Robinson], and the international brand of the Spurs, but put San Antonio on international stage for [the competition].”

Anya Grokhovski, the artistic director and CEO of Musical Bridges Around the World, said Robinson attributes his background in piano to helping him become the person he is today.

“To have this NBA All-Star, ‘The Admiral’ himself, serve as Honorary Chairman of The Gurwitz elevates awareness and importance of this competition on the global stage as the world of piano shines a spotlight on San Antonio in 2020,” she said in a news release.

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Robinson is welcome to perform at the showcase, though he has not yet responded to that invitation, Arastu said. Robinson plays not only the piano, but also the bass guitar, the saxophone, and the flute. He has previously shown off his musical chops in a 1990s Nike commercial.

“I appreciate music more than I play it,” Robinson said in the Oct. 16 interview with his son. “But … because of my father, I listen to a lot of classical music, I listen to jazz, I listen to a little bit of popular music but mostly gospel because I like the words, I like the positive music. Music is still a huge part of my life.”

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.