Picture Robin Lopez at his favorite spot in Portland, Powell's Books. His eyes are buried in a comic book—he is a shameless fanatic. His forehead is covered by a curly afro that makes Anderson Varejao wonder if it might be time to try Rogaine. A dark patch of hair triangulates below his lower lip. If it's warm enough for shorts, you might catch him in his trademark knee-high tube socks. His city's motto begs its citizens to keep it weird, and Lopez has no trouble doing that.
Sepowitz tells the familiar story of how Lopez was brought to Portland to be the rugged defensive-minded center supporting All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. Terry Stotts liked Lopez's fondness for dirty work. This trend got its start in AAU basketball playing with his brother, Brook, and Quincy Pondexter.
"I didn't always have the ball in my hands, so I was trying to help out my teammates any way I could," Lopez remembers. "That's not something everybody is willing to do. It's not something everybody is willing to do well, more importantly."
The Blazers had talent when Lopez was brought on board in 2013 but they did not make the playoffs until "Weird Rob" joined the crew. Now Portland is playing post-season ball for the 2nd time in 2 years since he signed on. They may be down, Sepowitz says, but they may have a surprise or two left.
At some point this postseason, there will be at least one avalanche of momentum that swings a game their way, a Rip City staple. Dame Time is inevitable, Aldridge will deliver when it counts. The duo will be heavily praised when the game is over.
Fringe-MVP players get the accolades they deserve. They're the main reason we watch the game. But, as Sepowitz reminds us:
Just don't forget to tip your wonky handyman if you ever do see him around.