Glenn Robinson III, the newest Sixer, might actually have the most unique relationships with the Philadelphia 76ers than any of his teammates.
It all started when his father, Glenn Robinson Jr., played for the Sixers during the 2003-04 season, alongside the likes of Allen Iverson, Sam Dalembert, Eric Snow and Kenny Thomas. He’d accompany his father to some of his games, sitting courtside pre-game and getting to know some of his father's teammates (especially Kyle Korver, but more on that later).
It continued during Robinson III’s rookie season after he was cut from the Minnesota Timberwolves and went on to spend the final 10 games of his rookie year with Philadelphia.
And now, the story continues to be written, back in Philadelphia where Robinson III, acquired from the Golden State Warriors at the trade deadline, is still pretty amazed at how life has seemed to come full circle.
With that in mind, let’s get to know Robinson III a little better.
Here’s the transcription of our Q&A:
Glenn, your relationship with Philly essentially started when you were a kid, continued briefly your rookie year ... and now, you’re back! When you think of Philly what are the first thoughts that come to mind?
The first thing that comes to mind is a tough-nosed mindset, from the fans, to the way that the team is built, to just my experience here. (Robinson III referring to his 10-game stint with the Sixers to end his rookie year in 2015).
It was in a rough time for me. Right after I got cut from Minnesota, I came here, and immediately I was just like what do I have to do to establish myself in this league? I have to grind, I have to have a tough-nosed mentality every single day in practice and in games, and that really brought that out of me. I feel like that's what Philly is all about, is that tough mentality and not giving up mentality and especially the fans, and that's what they expect. I love playing here and my first two games back were great.
Sounds like you’ve already been here awhile with how you describe the Philly mentality. Have you seen the Philly Hard. Philly Real. Philly Edge phrases on the walls throughout the facility?
It's funny you say that. I've just seen Philly Hard in the weight room, I didn't know. Kind of crazy how that all correlates. [Philly] is not something that is going to put you in awe when you come into the city ... but what it is, is a mentality that you have to switch. From people just walking the streets, to people like us on the court, I feel like that's what everyone wants to see, that tough mentality, that not giving up, we're going to run through a wall and go as hard as we can in order to win, in order to take what we want.
It's just about taking things in this city, not in a bad way at all, but in a way that, we out-tough other teams, other cities. It might not be the prettiest all the time, but what we do have, is heart.
I read about how you forged a relationship with a young Kyle Korver when you were about 10 years old and he was a rookie, while sitting courtside pre-game at your dad's games here in Philadelphia. What do you remember from that time?
It was crazy, but the most vivid memory I have of that time is of Allen Iverson. I went in the locker room after a game and I'm sitting in my dad's locker waiting for him to shower and AI was right there, and I had on this whole Philly warmup, and I asked him to sign it, and he's like, ‘Yeah, I got ya, shorty,’ and I looked at him like, ‘I'm almost as tall as you! and I'm in like 6th grade!’
Back to Kyle Korver ... I was sitting on the bench while they were warming up, and he just kept coming up and talking to me and we became friends, and I had no idea who he was, and so I had to ask my Dad. And that year, Kyle did the three-point contest, too, because I remember I was rooting for him. I was like, ‘Hey, that's the guy I was sitting next to! That's my favorite player!’ Kyle ended up being my favorite player when I met him, just because of how cool he was and I still share that story with him, every time we're on the court together to this day.
So it's hilarious how things come full circle, from that situation, to me being back here. Like you said, when I was a kid to be around this organization and be around the fans and the players and now to be playing here again, for the second time, is pretty crazy.
When Kyle first saw you in the league, did he recognize you or come say anything to you?
Yeah, he did. He told me it makes him feel old! A lot of people tell me that from knowing my dad. It's crazy, because I gained relationships here my first time around, and they had relationships with my dad when I was here, so it's cool that I kind of know people here. Kevin (Johnson), the Sixers head athletic trainer (who joined the Sixers during Robinson Jr.’s season in 2003-04), he was here when I was here, and he also had my dad, and a lot of staff members that have been around. It's crazy to see that!
Who are some of the guys you grew up watching as a kid?
T-Mac (Tracy McGrady), Allen Iverson, Ray Allen. Those were the biggest ones, where I was trying to figure out how to tell my dad like, these are my favorite players. He's my dad, but these are my favorite players. You're obviously my favorite, but these are the three next in line.
You were the Slam Dunk Champion back in 2017, but just how obsessed were you with dunking growing up?
I think growing up, LeBron was coming around and he was the guy, and he was dunking and I think he really inspired me to become a dunker and that was all I wanted to do, was dunk. And my grandma always used to tell me, ‘You need to stop trying to dunk, you need to go outside and shoot, practice on your shot, and the dunking will come,’ and she was right. I couldn't dunk until my sophomore year of high school, and in between those times of middle school to high school, until I could dunk, I begged my mom to buy these DVDs that taught you how to increase your vertical. I watched every single YouTube video there was.
Did they work?
No. Well ... I don't know, because all of a sudden I was able to dunk my sophomore year. I don't know if it was because of all the work that I had put in and that magically happening, or I wasted all my money and all my mom's money and time, but I bought these shoes that supposedly made your calves stronger, the Jump Sole Shoes, that had a thing here (Glenn is laughing, while pointing to the sole of his shoes), and it lifted your toe off the ground. They were ugly. (Everyone, please do yourself a favor and check out the Jump Soles).
I used to put salt in my shoes, like Jordan. Tried everything, and I just couldn't dunk until my sophomore year. I tried literally everything and none of it worked until one day it just happened, and my grandma was right.
You mention your grandma, talk to me about the role that both your mom and grandma played in your life.
I grew up with my mom and my grandma and with my brother, who is a year younger than me (Gelen), he just joined the XFL, he plays for Dallas Renegades, us five were in the house. My Dad was obviously professional and traveling and playing, so we would spend some time with him during the summers, but not too much, two weeks out of the summer or something like that, and see him when we could. So the majority of my time was with my mom and my grandma.
I feel like, being raised by them, they kind of gave me my giving side, the side to me that's always trying to help people (Robinson recently started the ARI foundation, details below) and putting people in the right positions and public and media, whatever it might be. It's presenting myself in the right way, but also having a toughness about me when I get out on the court and accomplishing my goals, so I feel like I was raised in a great environment with them, so I give them a lot of credit everyday, and I'm glad to be in a position to be able to take care of them.
Your daughter Ari turns two years old in March, how has fatherhood changed you?
It's really made me open up my eyes, when you see them growing up and just like you. They try to do everything like you, they try to act like you, so it really opens up your eyes to how you present yourself as a man, towards other women, and especially having a girl, I feel like in today's society, we need great men to raise daughters. With what's going on now with all social media and all looks and appearance, it’s not about those things, it's how do I create a life for her, that she can be the most successful and feel like she doesn't have to depend on anybody or Instagram. So, it's changed me a lot, it's one of the best feelings in the world to be able to take care of your children. It's a lot of work, but it changes you, and it's so much fun.
The ARI foundation (Angels Are Real Indeed) named after your daughter, what is its mission?
To empower fathers and help fatherlessness, single mothers and any work that I can do with kids that don't have fathers involved in their life. And the fathers that are involved in their children’s lives, how can we empower each other?
(This past Valentine’s Day, Robinson III hosted a Daddy Daughter dance through his foundation.)
It hasn’t been an easy road for you. This is your sixth year in the NBA and the sixth team you’ve played for (if you count the two separate stints in Philly), what has been the greatest adversity you’ve faced, and what do you think you've learned from it so far?
I think my rookie year. I didn't play and I was in a suit almost every game, and then I ended up getting cut out of nowhere. I was actually sick the day I got cut, and if you're sick you have to go to the doctor to get a doctor’s note and I literally couldn't get out of bed, so I finally made it to the doctor and on my way back they told me I got cut, so I was like, 'is it because I didn't go in?' And I'm always first in the gym, last to leave, and I'm like, is that the reason? That was the biggest adversity I think I've gone through.
Also, I had never been traded up until this point, so now the trade, it was kind of a big adjustment for me, because it happens just like that. Had to be out of there (GSW) and come to Philly and you've got a couple days to be acclimated and you've got a whole new team, whole new staff, whole new plays, and then you get thrown out there and play.
It's crazy to me, but those are the two biggest pieces of adversity that I've had to go through, but it just makes you stronger, makes you better. And, I think everything happens for a reason, so I'm very interested, to see my reasoning for my life. Everything has a purpose, so what was the purpose of this trade and how is it going to affect my life and how is it going to change who I am as a person?
Whether that's being ... (Glenn pauses to think). I'm definitely a leader, but sometimes I show more than I talk, but probably over the past year I've been growing to talking more and being in that leadership role, more vocal, so it could be that? Because those are things that were missing on the team, so I'm definitely interested to see.
Let’s do a few random questions. If you weren't playing basketball, you would be?
I'm very interested in business, entrepreneurship and real estate. I think I definitely want to get involved before I retire, but especially when I retire more heavily into both of those. I'm not sure what type of business I want to own, but I definitely want to be an owner of some sort.
Biggest pet peeve? I have a little bit of OCD, so I'm very neat and organized, so maybe if someone came over and completely messed up my organization in the kitchen, or whatever it might be. You move the fork and I'll move it back! So I’d spend my day, if someone was over, rearranging things how they were.
Anything you’re scared of? Heights.
Most listened to song right now? Life is Good, by Drake and Future. The Remix.
How do you like your cheesesteak? So I'm not a huge cheese person, so just give it to me plain, and I'll figure the rest out.
Three words to describe yourself?
(Fittingly, as you’ll see in a moment, Glenn pauses for 38 seconds to think this one through)
I would say, I'm a thinker but I don't want to say just ‘thinker.’ I think a lot before I make my actions. I don't know a word for that but, that ...
So, how about thinker? (Glenn laughs). Thinker. Intelligent. Confident.
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