Born in Bakersfield, California in 1985, former Seattle Supersonics first-round draft pick Robert Swift had all the makings of another straight-to-the-pros success story waiting to unfold. At 7’1″, 210, Swift dominated the high school game, averaging 21 points per game while turning the heads of college and pro scouts alike due to his combination of athleticism and strength in the blocks.
The assumption was, with a college strength and conditioning program, or that same help in the NBA, Swift would put on the weight to allow him to be a force on the blocks at the next level. That promise, however, never panned out.
As it stood, Swift finished his NBA career averaging 4.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, his last action in the league coming during a brief stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009 where he appeared in 26 games. After refusing a relegation to the D-League by the Thunder, Swift played his last organized professional basketball for the Tokyo Apache of the Japanese League.
Swift’s name is recently back in the news for all the wrong reasons, as he has abandoned his Sammamish, Washington mansion, leaving it in total disrepair and a state of unmentionable filth.
Upon inspection by the home’s new owners — after month’s of these owners attempting to contact Swift without success — smashed glass, beer bottles, trash, holes punched in walls and animal feces smeared all over a back deck awaited them.
In the house as well, were pictures of Swift during his days in the NBA, and boxes upon boxes of unopened recruiting letters from some of the top collegiate basketball programs in the country.
While we may never know why Robert Swift started to spiral downwards, it’s reasonable to assume his decision to turn pro — and take the money that awaited him — instead of going on to college is one that is haunting.
The culture of the NBA — while no longer allowing high school kids to jump directly — encourages the best young talent to make its way to the professional hardwood as soon as they can. The best college programs are nothing more than one year refining grounds for these players to fine-tune the rougher aspects of their game so the transition to the professional ranks can be made a little easier.
When a young player during the early 2000s chose to make the jump to the pros they were taking a calculated risk that the money would continue to flow and a fall-back college education could come later down the road.
Did Robert Swift think the NBA was his only option? Was college never really a secondary one?
These questions will be his to answer, should he choose to do so.
Regardless, it’s yet another case of the NBA churning up and spitting out a once-promising player that couldn’t rise to the occasion. We rarely hear of these guys, only the success stories.
For every Kevin Garnett there are ten Robert Swifts.
And that is just as sad as their lost dreams.