Exclusive: Glenn Robinson III has unfinished business, is ready for return to the NBA
Don't call it a comeback. After two seasons away from the game, Glenn Robinson III details what's fueling this decision and what he offers teams.
Glenn Robinson III is ready.
He’s in a great place physically and mentally, eager to find his groove again in the NBA and make an impact in a variety of ways.
During an exclusive conversation with Fieldhouse Files, Robinson III shared that he plans to resume his NBA career and is preparing for workouts scheduled with NBA teams next week in Las Vegas. Teams like Milwaukee, Boston and Golden State have all expressed interest, he said.
“We’re gonna host some private workouts to try to crack that door and get back in this thing,” said Robinson III, who moved from Indianapolis to Los Angeles in February.
He’s completely healthy now, more confident than ever in his abilities and of what teams need, both on and off the court.
“I’ve secretly kind of been training and getting ready for the last four months,” he continued. “It’s like riding a bike once I got back in the gym and committed myself to OK, this is what I want to do.
“Coming back, I know I need to step it up, I need to take my mental game to a whole other level, take my physical game to a whole other level. I know teams want to see if I’m aggressive, see these things that I was a little timid to and shy to before I left. How is he coming back being 29, being a vet now? I’m just taking pride in all of that.”
GRIII, the 40th pick in 2014, laughed several times during the interview. First, at the timing, how he’s 29 and we were speaking on the day his dad was selected No. 1 overall in 1994 — at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. That was 29 years ago.
Secondly, he couldn’t help but laugh at how so many simply assumed he was done — that he had retired after being waived by the Sacramento Kings on February 24, 2021. He’s been away from the NBA and spent time on himself and his family, but he’s not ready to be done playing professional basketball.
“Everybody just calls it like a comeback,” he said, smiling through the phone. “I’m like, hey, I never said that I was done playing. And then I’m 29, it’s not like I lost anything. It’s been fun talking to my agent, Keith Kreiter, and I’m like ‘Do these GMs really think that I’m out of shape or have a guy?’
“And he’s like, ‘Yeah, when you spend two seasons off, most people will get a gut, be out of shape. You don’t know how they’re going to be.’ And I’m like ‘You don’t have to worry about that with me.’”
Over his career, Robinson III is averaging 5.9 points and 2.0 rebounds per game playing primarily off the bench. His best season was 2019-20 with Golden State when the opportunity was there. He started in all 48 games he played and averaged 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds while shooting 40% from distance.
But then he was traded to the 76ers in a cost-cutting move for the Warriors to save millions on their tax bill.
Before that season in San Francisco, he had a life-altering experience.
It stemmed from a conversation with the late Kobe Bryant. Thanks to NBA assistant coach Phil Handy, Robinson III was then invited to Bryant’s first annual offseason camp at the Mamba Academy for about 25 players, including some of the NBA’s best like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, etc.
Robinson III, who practices transcendental meditation, was encouraged by Bryant to stay at it. “Everything will change if you do it once a day,” he told Robinson III.
So he did.
“I did that and I had career numbers with the Warriors,” he said. “And I know people talk about how bad our team was, but for a guy to be able to play almost every game, which I did, to guard the best players and to continue to have my shooting percentage that I had with the Warriors was really a turning point for me as a player.
“That is the type of player that I know I’m capable of being and that’s the type of player that I really want to respond with and help a team with.”
What’s Robinson III Been Up To?
He knows the question is coming so he answered it before I even led him there.
“Something that I think about that I know a lot of people will have a question about it is like what is he been up to?” GRIII began.
“I would say to that everybody knows about my relationship with my daughter. My daughter (Ari) is my whole world basically. When I stepped away during Covid, things were a little weird. I took the time to get to know my daughter. A lot of people do know that I dealt with the Indiana court system, which is not easy to deal with. You have to basically be a lawyer yourself in order to get what you want and maximize your time with your kids.
“My mom and dad were never in the court system. (They divorced before he was 1.) And my dad was worth $100 million. So to me, it was never about the money I’m making in the league, it was more about gaining a relationship with my daughter and that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve had time to see my daughter, spend quality time with her, fight for her in court. And like I said, it took a real mental toll on me not being able to see her as much while playing. That was a big issue. So I did what I felt like was right.
“Now coming back into this space, I really want to be a voice for people so they don’t quit and don’t give up no matter what you’re going through. I think life hits us differently at all times, but there’s a lot of people who quit or give up on their dreams or something might go wrong — and they’re done.
“I knew I wasn’t done yet. I knew I still had more in the tank. I knew that for six years prior, this being my job and what I loved to do, I wanted to come back and really make a strong comeback, as people say.”
Robinson III signed a three-year deal with the Pacers in 2015 and is most associated with Indiana’s NBA team. He’s from Gary, Ind. and when he joined the team, his goal was to absorb as much as he could from George in being a productive two-way player.
GRIII also got close with Karen Atkeson, the team’s VP of Player Relations. He praised her for getting him involved with the Harvard Business School thanks to a four-month program with the league for current and former players.
He applied and was accepted within 48 hours.
So while he was forming his relationship with his five-year-old daughter Ari, Robinson III was also learning how to be a businessman.
“I went to Harvard for two days as part of this four-month program that they have, an introduction to business,” he said. “The final wasn’t a final exam but it was more of a speech that we had to do with our teacher. And I actually ended up getting No. 1 in the class. It was a really good feeling for me knowing that all my hard work is paying off outside of basketball as well.”
Recently, he’s been working to produce an online course teaching kids how to dunk. He wants to help the future generation by providing something that wasn’t available when he entered the NBA’s Slam Dunk contest in 2017 — and guaranteed victory.
“When I won the dunk contest, I got some practice and some secrets of mine that I want to share with others. These kids, dunking is like shooting a 3. Even when I was younger, I bought the JumpSoles shoes, DVDs, YouTube videos to get your vertical up. It’s not a workout or how you get your vertical up; it’s more like these are the things that I do to actually make the dunks — this is how you cock it back, this is how you go between the legs, this is how you do behind-the-back dunks, 360s. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
What’s Fueling The Return?
“I would say it’s a lot of unfinished business for me,” he added.
“I never came out and said I’m gonna retire and this is it and basketball is over for me. Being 29, still being young enough to go out there and do what I’m supposed to do, I’m really inspired by my story and how I can help others. I’ve always wanted to help other people, but now I think I’ve put a whole other twist to it to where it’s like I’m not going to give up on what I’ve worked 20 years for.
“What’s driving me and fueling me is my family, the goals that I set for myself as being who I wanted to be and the person that I want to be — and that’s not someone who would step away from the game right now.”
His Message to Teams
Robinson III’s confidence on the court was through the roof after winning that dunk contest in 2017. “That was the best moment of my career,” he said then. It was the boost he needed as a player trying to prove it every day. And his play over the final few months of the season positively reflected that.
During Pacers training camp the next fall, however, he suffered the first significant injury in his career. A freak injury that happened after he went high up and then tried to finish. In a contract year, he needed surgery on his left ankle and then missed 70% of the season.
Now, though: “My confidence in who I am as a person and who I am as a basketball player I think is at an all-time high,” he said.
“I feel locked in like I’m not done yet and I haven’t shown everything that I have to do in basketball. To other teams — you’re definitely getting a vet and these guys need 3-and-D play more than ever. What I do, by being able to run the floor and you don’t have to worry about me off the court, and to be able to shoot it … I think teams are looking for that more than ever.
“My mindset coming into this thing is way different than any other time. I’m really focusing in on being that dog and attacking every day, controlling what I can control. And I know that my skill set is good enough to be in the league.”
First up, Robinson III plans to highlight his game, his shooting and conditioning level to teams out at Summer League.
Paid subscribers can listen to our conversation in the media player below: