Tuesday, June 10, 2008
All kidding aside, Lopez brothers enjoyed one fun ride
By Andy Katz
SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Seattle, Memphis or New Jersey may have to scrap its plans and go big -- twice -- with its two first-round picks.
Because it would be a shame to break up the 7-foot Lopez twins. Spend a day with Brook and Robin, and you'll see that this brother act is too good to split up after its two-year run at Stanford ended with their decision to declare for the NBA draft.
"I can't see how I'm related to this guy," Brook said of Robin, the younger brother by one minute. "We go out, and the guy sits in the corner and doesn't talk to anyone. Everyone is being social, and he doesn't talk to anyone. He sits there, drawing, writing and doing creative stuff. What's that about, man? Lazy, if you ask me. No life whatsoever.
"It translates to the basketball court, too. The guy rebounds and blocks shots, but what happened to his offensive game? He's probably too busy calling celebrity girlfriends and stuff like that to work on his game."
That dig was directed at the relationship -- currently suspended, according to Robin -- between Robin and LPGA golfer Michelle Wie.
Brook wasn't the only one sending zingers after Saturday's workout in California.
"I've been there for 20 years. The reason he's that good is not him; it's Robin Lopez," Robin said of Brook. "He's a fantastic scorer. Well, I helped get him there. Well, no, I got him there 99 percent of the way."
Brook, the more well-known of the twins, led the Cardinal in scoring (19.3 points per game) and rebounding (8.2) last season. He is projected to go in the top five of the draft and is working out only for Minnesota (third pick) and Seattle (fourth).
Robin averaged a more modest 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks a game, but he emerged as more of an offensive threat later in the season, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting while grabbing nine boards and blocking three shots in the second-round NCAA tournament win over Marquette. But in that win, it was Brook who hit the game-winning shot to beat the Golden Eagles with 1.3 seconds left and finish his 30-point outing.
Robin is projected to go somewhere in the first round, likely between Nos. 12 and 23, with workouts scheduled for New Jersey (Nos. 10 and 21), Indiana (11), Sacramento (12), Portland (13), Golden State (14), Phoenix (15), Toronto (17), Washington (18) and Utah (23).
|Robin Lopez takes a shot as twin brother, Brook, looks on during a workout in Santa Monica, California.|
If Robin goes in the first as expected, the Lopez twins would be the first brothers to go in the first round of the same NBA draft. (Horace Grant went No. 10 in 1987; his twin brother, Harvey, went No. 12 in 1988.)
"I want him to be a high draft pick," Brook said. "I took him out to the driveway and gave him a few pointers, but he ignores me and goes to his room.
"How would I describe his game? Boring. Pretty lame. You don't fill arenas up that way."
That type of good-natured ribbing was a constant during Saturday's workout at St. Monica Catholic High, an old-school gym in the perfect spot for agent Arn Tellem's lottery clients (D.J. Augustin and Anthony Randolph). After any miss, a block, anything that doesn't go one of the twins' way, the other is there to make the correction, with plenty of bite to the comment. It's all in good fun. And that's the key: These two are having a good time.
"Brook is a very talented player, but he's a little too content with himself," Robin said. "You can see the cockiness oozing out of him like the sweat that was dribbling off his face. The negative energy really hurt us during the shooting games. There was a negative energy over the rim, and nothing would go in for five minutes. It's mind-boggling. He's not at my level yet. It's what's to be expected. But it's really my failure."
"Negative energy?" Brook said upon hearing Robin's comments. "The negative energy he talks about comes from missing shots."
"If you want somebody who is selfish, lazy and uses only his right hand and has poor shot selection.
But hey, I'd waste my No. 3 draft pick on that," Robin said.
"You might be surprised to know that deep, deep, deep down, Brook has some fight in him, and it's best demonstrated by the landscape in our front yard [in Fresno]. I would abuse him on one-on-one, and there's a lamp that is missing the top half and there's a hole in one of the fences where he kicked it in."
"I admire that Robin isn't scared to show up every day, since he gets embarrassed every day," Brook said. "Robin in the NBA? For a couple of years, he can go to the D-League [and] bring that energy, play defense. Robin could be a backup, to maybe Tim Duncan. That's cool. It's possible, probably unlikely, but it's his dream."
All joking aside, they've both dreamed of playing in the NBA at the same time. The decision makers in the family -- which includes their mother, Deborah Ledford, and older brothers Chris and Alex Lopez (Alex played at Washington and Santa Clara) -- decided Brook and Robin should leave Stanford at the same time.
I admire that Robin isn't scared to show up every day, since he gets embarrassed every day. Robin in the NBA? For a couple of years, he can go to the D-League [and] bring that energy, play defense. Robin could be a backup, to maybe Tim Duncan. That's cool. It's possible, probably unlikely, but it's his dream.
--Brook Lopez as he teased his brother Robin
The Lopez twins made their decision before then-Cardinal coach Trent Johnson decided to leave for LSU and the Cardinal hired Duke associate head coach Johnny Dawkins to replace him. Robin said he never thought twice about staying at Stanford and being the featured player in the post because his brother was gone.
"I was playing at a high level with Brook on the court," said Robin, in a rare moment of seriousness on the subject of his brother. "I guess I didn't want to risk anything."
"Why should a team pick Robin?" Brook said rhetorically in another rare complimentary moment. "Robin is a really good defender, runs well, dribbles the ball and plays hard and does whatever a coach wants him to do. His offensive skills you may not have seen but it might surprise you."
Robin responded by saying quite simply: "The only reason I can give why someone should draft Brook is that he was the most dominant big man in the nation this year."
Truthfully, these two will miss each other terribly. They collaborate on off-court projects, notably comic books and multiple screenplays for movies that they can't share yet. Robin is the artist; Brook more of the writer. Robin said the comic ventures are more of the adventure kind -- not violent, not superhero, just straight adventure.
What they will miss is their daily friendship that they say is more than just a brotherly love.
"The hardest part will be not having someone I can rely on all the time, somebody I'm used to," said Robin, who slept on Brook's floor this past year because he was too lonely in his single room at Stanford. "The biggest change will be not having a guy who shares all the same interests with you."
But when it came time to talk about missing each other when they get separated, they couldn't resist reverting back to their good-natured ribbing.
"My biggest fear is that he'll be out of the league in two years," Brook said of Robin, laughing. Robin responded, "My biggest fear for you in the NBA is
it's that someone won't make sure your alarm clock is working."
"I won't miss him sleeping on my floor, the whole year -- terrible," Brook said.
"I won't miss your terrible taste in TV. I can't stand 'Sex and the City,'" Robin said.
That was it. That was too much for Brook to take. That one stung and was a bit embarrassing. Standing over the Santa Monica Pier, Brook had heard enough from his upstart brother, the one who wears the floppy hair that Brook claims, in jest, is a toupee.
Brook mutters that he has had enough of Robin. But it lasts only a minute or so. Within a few minutes, they are off, strutting together down the streets of Santa Monica, bending their angular bodies into a tight-fitting sedan being driven by their former summer league coach Darren Matsubara, and leaving for Los Angeles International Airport for separate flights -- Brook to Seattle and Robin to Phoenix.
Staying together probably won't happen, even though it would be good theater for the thespian pair. The curtain closed on their basketball act at Stanford, and it was one fun run.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
|Brook Lopez, right, is expected to go in the top 10 of the NBA draft while Robin is a projected first-rounder.|