Around two and a half years ago, Thomas Robinson's motives for basketball had all changed. He was in his sophomore season at The University of Kansas when, in a span of 2 weeks, Robinson lost both of his grandparents. A week later he was still far from over the deaths in his family, he got a phone call revealing more news, his mother had passed away. That's a span of 3 weeks that Robinson loses 3 family members. He had never known his father or his father's side of the family. Robinson had his sister, Jayla, and at the time said that she was all he had left. It wasn't expected that Robinson was going to play in the home game vs Texas the day after his mother passed away. Robinson showed up, and had this to say:
Nobody treat me different, I don't want anybody to baby me. Babying me is not going to help me get through. I don't need the coaches not to yell at me. I'm a grown man.
There wasn't much anyone could do. T-Rob was going to play.
Kansas ended up losing to Texas, as the Longhorns snapped KU's 69-game home winning streak. Robinson's motives for playing basketball had all changed from that point on. He was playing for much more than himself. He wasn't a huge NBA prospect at the time, so he had a lot of work to do. Robinson finished off his sophomore season at KU very strongly. Going into his junior year, he still wasn't high on draft boards. Probably somewhere in the second round. T-Rob straight up dominated everyone that season. His production was something no one expected from him coming out of high school. Robinson ended up a consensus first team All-American, Blake Griffin was the last player honored a consensus first team. Now T-Rob was up there on the draft boards. Some had him going as high as number 2.
Robinson ended up falling to the Kings at number 5. He was in tears just after he was drafted during an interview saying this:
I ain't stopping for nobody. I have work to do and I'm gonna do it.
Robinson's rookie year in the league was rough. He was getting inconsistent minutes on a Kings team that was dysfunctional and facing possible relocation at the time. The top 5 pick was then traded midway through the season to the Rockets. For a while it looked like Houston was a permanent home for Robinson. As the season went on he got buried deeper and deeper into the Rocket's bench. When the playoffs came around, he didn't play a single minute. It was obviously tough for the rookie to learn an entirely new system in his first season. Robinson was traded again in the offseason, a move that gave the Rockets enough cap room to sign Dwight Howard. Now T-Rob is here in Portland, and he realizes what this team needs from him.
I went back and watched old tapes and some stuff that I did, I wasn't playing with the same emotion, didn't feel like was having fun...I've been through a lot this year, it can mess with your confidence, it can mess with who you are as a player and I'm trying to get back to where I was and that's being aggressive, playing with emotion and letting people know that I'm on the court.
Robinson goes on to say...
The NBA is all about opportunity, you wouldn't be in this league if you couldn't play. I've seen some of the best scorers sit on the bench. It's all about opportunity, it's all about taking advantage of your chances when you get them, you just gotta wait until your turn comes...I'm the energy guy, if those guys see me out there playing, talking and looking like I'm having fun then they are going to do the same thing.
Robinson said this in an interview after a summer league game with the Trail Blazers scoring 12 points and grabbing 18 boards. He is getting to know who he is as a player and understands that he has a great opportunity in Portland. T-Rob has his fire back and has had an offseason to settle down and relax after the roller coaster rookie season and now his his mind the right place. He might not ever be a starter in Portland, but he has a chance to prove himself now. Top 5 picks aren't supposed to be tossed around like he is. His hustle and energy is infectious, the kind of guy this team needed off of the bench and possibly as a starter some day.
The Trail Blazers should welcome T-Rob with open arms. His motto is "Family Over Everything" or FOE and I think the Blazer Family should embrace it as well.
Let's hope for a promising season from T-Rob and FOE!