Robin Lopez has earned six technical fouls this season, tied for ninth most in the NBA, and 38 for his career. His twin brother, Brook, has behaved himself this season and only been T’d up four times in 601 career games. But don’t expect the whistles to come out Friday night when the Lopez twins square off against one another for the 18th time in 10 NBA seasons.
“The refs kind of let us go,” Brook said with a laugh during Friday’s shootaround at the United Center. “It bothers me sometimes because he’s such a hack, but it gets a little dirty.”
Added Robin: “The refs let us go to work, do whatever we had to.”
The family affair has become quite a spectacle for the players and their friends and family. The 7-foot twins have come a long way since they each scored two points in a barnburner between the Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets. Brook has been named an All-Star and is the Nets all-time leading scorer. Robin has cemented himself as a reliable center, missing just 24 games since the start of the 2012-13 season. He’s played in 81 or more games four of the last five seasons and has played in all 48 for the Bulls this season.
Both have appeared in the postseason, Brook reaching the playoffs twice with Brooklyn and Robin on four occasions with three teams (Phoenix, Portland and Chicago). Both still have plenty left in the tank, but as is the case for most 7-footers in their 10th NBA seasons, their best days are behind them.
Still, there’s always a little something extra that goes on when these two face off against one another. Heading in to Friday’s tilt between the Lakers and Bulls, Robin holds a 9-8 all-time advantage, though Brook’s 19.7 points and 6.8 rebounds trump his 10.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in head-to-head matchups.
Robin agreed tongue-in-cheek with Brook’s assessment of him being a hack, but admitted Brook’s biggest weakness is “all-around basketball IQ. Just general all-around IQ.”
Where Robin lacks in comedic delivery he more than made up for in board games. Robin spent time with Brook and their older brother, Alex, playing the India map on Ticket to Ride.
“I won,” he admitted proudly. “I completed all my routes, I picked up extra routes.”
And make no mistake. The competitive juices will continue to flow Friday night when they take the court. Though Brook is averaging career-lows across the board, he has started nine of the last 10 games for the Lakers, a span in which they’ve gone 7-3. Robin has remained steady as ever in Chicago, averaging 12.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 28.3 minutes. Though the Bulls have opted to play smaller this season, Robin has still found room to produce.
So with the spotlight on them - neither the Lakers nor Bulls are playing for much of anything, despite L.A.'s recent hot stretch - and the referees swallowing their whistles, the brotherly affair could take center stage.
“It’s a pretty cool experience,” Robin admitted. “I have family in town, friends coming into town so it’s a lot of fun.”