- National Teams
Former Great Britain centre and the only Scotsman to ever play in the NBA, Rob Archibald, passed away on Friday at the age of 39.
The 6’11” big man had a successful professional career and represented GB for six straight years from 2006-2012, collecting 46 caps which culminated in suiting up at the London 2012 Olympics.
University of Illinois athletics officials confirmed Archibald’s death Friday afternoon but the circumstances around his death remain unclear.
Starting his career with Dunfermline Reign where he won two Scottish titles, Archibald headed to the US to attend Lafayette High School for his Senior year, where he won a full scholarship to NCAA Division 1 school Illinois – qualifying for 3 trips to March Madness and reaching the Sweet 16 as a starter in 2002 – before being selected by the Memphis Grizzlies with 32nd pick in the 2002 NBA Draft.
Stints with Memphis, Phoenix, Orlando and Toronto in the NBA followed, before carving himself a successful career in Europe, predominantly in Spain, but also having played in Italy, and Ukraine – where he won the Ukranian Superleague and Cup in 2008, whilst also securing the Finals MVP. He played 4 seasons in the Euroleague; one year each with Scavolini Pesaro and Joventut Badalona and two seasons with Unicaja Málaga.
He retired in 2012 after the Olympics with GB. He had career averages of 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 37 appearances for GB, with an international career-high of 23 points against Switzerland in 2007.
British Basketball Federation chairman Maurice Watkins commented: “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, added:
“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.”
Tributes have come flooding in across social media from former teams and teammates:
View this post on Instagram
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 mofos 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. I also enjoyed his company off the court. His personality wasn't for everyone and rubbed alot of people the wrong way haha and others loved him. He was very much like Marmite in that regard but we got along really well right off the bat. I think half of it was because he realised that I wouldn't take any shit from him and I believe he respected me for that. 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 ❤️
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) January 25, 2020
Very sad to hear the passing of Robert Archibald. I'm proud to have shared the same court as him. His achievement from Dunfermline to the NBA is one of the greatest in Scottish sporting history. Rest in power Arch. https://t.co/asZfhl2gXQ
— peg-peg-24 (@pegzyisdeed) January 25, 2020
Ens ha deixat a l'edat de 39 anys, Robert Archibald, exjugador del Club Joventut Badalona entre els anys 2005-2007. Estem consternats per aquesta terrible notícia. Volem expressar el nostre més sentit condol a la família i amics. DEP pic.twitter.com/Im3MrtBnjy
— Club Joventut Badalona (@Penya1930) January 25, 2020
Basket Zaragoza quiere expresar su tristeza ante la noticia del fallecimiento de su exjugador Robert Archibald. Nuestras condolencias 🙏🏻. DEP.
Former Basket Zaragoza center Robert Archibald has passed away at age 39. Our thoughts are with his family and friends 🙏🏻. RIP, Robert. pic.twitter.com/vCLOpj4GnC
— Casademont Zaragoza (@BasketZaragoza) January 25, 2020
Una sonrisa, un soldado, un gigante. Muy triste. DEP Robert Archibald. pic.twitter.com/52LhZ1b2pW
— Chus Mateo (@MateoChus) January 25, 2020
basketballscotland are deeply saddened to learn of the unexpected passing of Scottish basketball legend Robert Archibald. Our thoughts are with Robert's family and friends during this difficult time.
— basketballscotland (@basketballscot) January 25, 2020
We’ve lost a member of our #Illini family much too soon.
RIP, Arch. pic.twitter.com/UuZUj5AFmc
— Illinois Basketball (@IlliniMBB) January 24, 2020
The 1998-1999 Fighting Illini basketball team was my first ever favorite team. The first ever Illini game I went to in 1999, I remember looking at the program and deciding Robert Archibald was going to be my favorite player. RIP to an Illini legend. pic.twitter.com/hihNXo3plK
— Andrew Snow (@CoachSnow11) January 24, 2020
Being homesick for Illinois after we moved to South Carolina, we loved watching our home state’s basketball team; dynamic players with such personalities! Because of Robert Archibald and his teammates, we became Illini fans for life. He was one of our favs. RIP, Arch. pic.twitter.com/OEbqfgsfyO
— Midwest Jules (@MidwestJules) January 24, 2020
Robert Archibald was a tough-as-nails center during a great era of Illinois basketball. The university confirms he has died at 39.https://t.co/XquRU1TIcJ
— Chicago Tribune Sports (@ChicagoSports) January 25, 2020
Grew up watching former @IlliniMBB standout Robert Archibald play, sad to hear of his passing today. I went back into the @WCIA3 archives to find some old video of him helping the #Illini win back-to-back Big Ten titles. Those were fun teams to watch.
RIP Robert. pic.twitter.com/CXsqvjHneL
— Bret Beherns (@WCIA3Bret) January 25, 2020