Robin Lopez

Former Bull Robin Lopez loving life as a Milwaukee Buck in Disney World

Former Bull Robin Lopez loving life as a Milwaukee Buck in Disney World

From the moment the Milwaukee Bucks arrived at Walt Disney World for the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Fla., Robin Lopez has been his typically humorous self on social media.

The former Bulls center and current Bucks man in the middle, along with twin brother Brook, has never disguised his love for all things Disney. Brook owns a house on the property. And the brothers have visited Disney properties both stateside and overseas for years.

But little did Robin know when he visited the resort over All-Star weekend that he’d be back, not only on the park’s grounds, but playing for the Eastern Conference favorites with a title at stake.

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“So far, it’s very much been surreal,” Lopez said on a Zoom media session Sunday. “I never quite thought these two worlds would collide in the way that they have. I think it’s going to be pretty interesting going forward.”

Lopez expressed his appreciation to NBA and Disney officials for ensuring the so-called bubble is safe for competition, and relished the opportunity to be practicing with his close-knit teammates again. At all his NBA stops, including with the Bulls, Lopez has cemented his status in the locker room as a favorite teammate of many.

“I’m just enjoying myself,” Lopez said. “It’s nice to be back on the floor.”

Lopez couldn’t estimate how many visits he has paid to the property, though he did reveal he has stayed at the resort where the Bucks are located before. Calling himself “sartorially challenged,” Lopez said he has a nice collection of Disney-related T-shirts with images and slogans that he plans to wear to and from practices and games.

 

Lopez has also engaged in a long-running, tongue-in-cheek feud with NBA mascots over his 12-year career. Along those lines, he jokingly tweeted in late April that NBA mascots not being allowed in the bubble would be fine because — well, duh — Disney characters would be present.

Asked how his progress in securing these alternative mascots for games was going, Lopez took the bait.

“I don’t want to use the word alternatives. That takes a group of characters, a cadre of characters, that are the cream-of-the-crop at what they do. And that sullies their names by suggesting they’re merely playing in the same ballpark as NBA mascots,” Lopez said, the sarcasm dripping. “There’s a pyramid to this, you know with the NBA mascots, MLB mascots, NFL mascots are all the way down (low). 

“It would be a blessing to have the Disney characters around our game, around our sporting events. Whatever the children do these days, please tag the mascots in that statement.”

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Robin Lopez proposes replacing NBA mascots with Disney characters

Robin Lopez proposes replacing NBA mascots with Disney characters

Two weeks ago, Yahoo! Sports reporter Keith Smith proposed an idea to salvage the rest of the NBA season: play the remaining games at Disney World.

Smith is a former Walt Disney Company employee of 20 years, and his idea stems from the possibility the NBA will need to isolate teams from the general population due to the coronavirus. Disney World has an abundance of hotel rooms as possible team housing, plus basketball facilities at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

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This doesn't mean the NBA is necessarily discussing playing at Disney. However, former Bulls center Robin Lopez (an avid Disney fan) ran with the proposal Tuesday on Twitter.

Where does that leave Chicago mascot Benny the Bull?

Lopez has a longstanding 'beef' with NBA mascots, so he's probably just joking around.

Or is he?

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With fond memories of playing for the Bulls, new Buck Robin Lopez beats them

With fond memories of playing for the Bulls, new Buck Robin Lopez beats them

At every turn, hugs greeted Robin Lopez in his Monday return to the United Center.

Well, except for the time Benny the Bull, one of many mascots the affable center has tormented over the years, threw a cardboard cutout of Lopez's likeness into a trash can during a bit aired on the scoreboard during a timeout.

Over three seasons as a Bull, Lopez earned widespread admiration from teammates and coaches for his selfless play and durability. That's why after dropping 14 points, five rebounds and three blocks on his former team, the new Bucks center even was warmly greeted when he visited the Bulls' locker room following the Bucks' 122-112 preseason victory.

"He was coachable and he was reliable, just a wonderful guy," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said. "Very intelligent guy. And I thought he was a great Bull while he was here during a difficult time. I wish him success."

Team success is what drew Lopez to the Bucks, who signed him as a free agent.

"It was cool," Lopez said of the free-agent process. "Everything happens so quickly now. A lot of teams inquired. I don’t want to say the choice was easy because a lot of quality organizations inquired. But obviously it was an appealing offer. Obviously, a very good organization top to bottom. They’re ideally trying to win now."

But what about playing with his twin brother, Brook, for the first time since they played collegiately at Stanford?

"You can’t have everything," Lopez cracked.

Yes, the shade-throwing between the two brothers will be going on all season. And with Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer's wide-open system leading to multiple 3-point opportunities for Brook last season, look for Robin's "tea-party" celebration following his made 3-pointers frequently this season.

"I think we felt what was best for him and our situation with Wendell Carter that it was best for him maybe to find another opportunity, which we had no doubt that he would. But he was a terrific player for the team for us,"  Boylen said. "He was a dynamic screener. And he was an ‘Amen’ guy in the locker room, so when you say something he’d always give you an ‘Amen’ because he believes in the right things."

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