The Indiana Pacers were in Phoenix on Saturday ahead of their matchup with the Suns. Considering how that is close to Arizona State University (where I currently attend), I decided to go down to Talking Stick Resort Arena to talk with Glenn Robinson III.
Update on His Return
Glenn provided an update regarding his return. He mentioned that he doesn’t have a definitive timetable but he feels like he is getting close to coming back. He has started to participate in more 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 games.
“I’d just say that it’s getting close. I think it’s getting close. The training staff still hasn’t given me a timetable. I’m feeling better every day. I started playing a little more 4-on-4 and 5-on-5. I think it’s very close.”
Will He Be in the Dunk Contest?
Many fans were wanting to know if Robinson III will be participating in this year’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest to defend his title as the champion. He told me that the team’s training staff doesn’t want him doing it this year but he would like to participate in the event again in the future.
“This year, unfortunately, the training staff told me that I can’t but we’ll see about the following year. At least I don’t go out with a loss. I’m out on top and at least it’s not my fault that I can’t do it this year.”
Maintaining Off-Season Improvements
Back in August, I interviewed Glenn and his trainer Joey Burton to gain insight about what he worked on over the summer because it looked like he was going to potentially receive a level of opportunity that he has never seen before. It truly sounded like he was working both hard and smart and was primed for a potential breakout season. Considering those circumstances, I was curious to hear how a player manages to maintain the improvements that they made to their skill-set when they get injured and have to spend an extended period of time away from the court.
“I think that you just continue, now when I come back, I just continue to work out. I continue to work with Joey [Burton] who I was working with. I think that really, I just take everything from the summer. I worked really hard on ball handling and coming off ball screens. Now when I’m trying to get back, I’m remembering everything I learned and that I worked hard on. It hasn’t gone anywhere, surprisingly. My shot is still there and my handles are still there and getting better. I’ve seen a lot of improvement this summer, so I was a little upset when I got hurt. But if anything, I’m anxious to show everyone what I’ve worked on.”
Fit Alongside Victor Oladipo
When thinking about the ideal types of players to place alongside a star like Victor Oladipo, it’s hard not to picture someone like Robinson III. He has an effective complementary skill-set with the ability to create his own shot, he can really run the floor, and let’s not forget that he is a plus defender. We discussed how his skill-set should fit alongside Oladipo.
“I read a lot about some people saying they don’t know how my impact is going to come if I’m going to make the team worse or better. I don’t think about any of that. I think the way my game is, I’m a two-way player. Being able to shoot the ball, run the floor, that’s my game. If anything, I’m going to complement this team and make this team even better. My ability to spread the floor will open things for Vic. His ability to get to the rim will open things up for me and the way that we run and play and just play free. I’m excited.”
Understanding His Role
While it’s never a positive experience to get injured and miss a majority of your season, it can serve as a learning experience. I asked Glenn if watching from the sidelines has allowed him to have an advantage in regards to knowing how to fit in with this new Pacers team and if that can help him to maximize his impact on the game upon his return.
“Definitely. Definitely. I know when I come back, I know the spots on the court that are open. I know the spots that need help. I know that we need another defender. I can see all of the little things looking at it from a different perspective.”
Lessons Learned From the Injury
It’s hard for a professional athlete to be away from the game that they love and have spent countless hours upon hours doing to perfect their craft. However, being able to watch the game from the sidelines can provide a new perspective for some players and can serve as an opportunity to learn things that they previously did not know. I asked him what he has learned during his time away from the game.
“It really just showed me a lot about patience. Not to say that I wasn’t the most patient guy. I wasn’t impatient, but it really helped me calm down things and to mentally look at the game from a different perspective, from a coaching perspective.”
How the Pacers Have Exceeded Expectations
The Pacers have truly managed to exceed expectations so far this season. Not many expected them to be a playoff team and they are sitting with the eight best record in the Eastern Conference just barely after the halfway mark of the season. Glenn talked about how he believes this team has managed to overachieve this year.
“Starting the season, everybody counted us out and doubted us. We didn’t have all of the superstars on the team. People didn’t know how the trade was going be with Paul and Vic. I think we just really took that mindset and tried to play to the best of our ability, to play together and to have fun. We all saw that at the beginning of the season and we saw how good we can be.”
What He Likes About This New Team
Indiana had serious roster turnover in the NBA over summer. It can take time to adjust to what is basically a brand new team. However, it’s different for a player who makes his season debut after the halfway point because his teammates have been able to build chemistry and develop an identity. Glenn mentioned that watching from the sidelines has allowed him to understand how he can maximize his impact when he starts playing with the team.
“I think that the way that we play and the speed of the game. We just play fast and play fun. We don’t do a lot of thinking and a lot of arguing. It’s kind of unlike any team I’ve been on since college. It reminds me of my Michigan team as far as having young guys that run the floor and we play for each other and play hard every night.”
How They Overcome Major Deficits
During the night before, the Pacers came back from a 22-point deficit that they faced at the end of the first quarter and they went on to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers. Robinson III provided insight about how this team has found ways to claw back from significant deficits throughout this season.
“We just never give up. We play hard. It’s hard to beat a team like that. When you get up that many points, you tend to relax, no matter who it is. With this team, I’ve seen games where we play better when we’re down. We just play carefree, we don’t care who shoots it, we just play for each other.”
A Strong Support System
Sometimes you hear cool stories about fellow athletes reaching out to a player after an injury. I was interested to hear who reached to Robinson III. He pointed to the great support that his current teammates showed him. In fact, they all went over to his house after he had surgery. He also mentioned that Paul George reached out to him, which I thought was cool because he has looked up to George for a while.
“Yeah. I’ve heard from a lot of players. A lot of my old teammates. Obviously all of my current teammates. The day I came home from surgery, the whole team was at my house. It was awesome to see how much they believe in me and how much they actually care. We are all like brothers. I hear from Paul [George] and from a number of different players in the league.”
What He Did While Recovering
Some NBA players have some unique hobbies and interests, so I was curious to hear what Glenn did to pass the time. He mentioned that he watched Netflix outside of watching film.
“I didn’t really watch TV that much until I got hurt. I started watching Netflix, I started watching more film, I started watching a lot of things because I was stuck in bed. That’s probably I’d say the biggest thing, TV shows, and movies.”
How About Those Michigan Wolverines?
I couldn’t end the interview without asking about his Michigan Wolverines. Earlier that day, his Wolverines defeated #4 Michigan State in East Lansing.
“Crazy. It’s crazy. Mo Wagner was hooping. He’s good. Great player. It’s always great to beat Michigan State, the rival. Me and Vic always joke about IU and the Big Ten, but it’s great to see Michigan doing well.”