Robinson honored in return to Purdue

Glenn Robinson was honored by Purdue fans in his return to Mackey Arena.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- All eyes in Mackey Arena were focused on the motion ‘P' at center court, except for those of Glenn Robinson. As Purdue honored one of its all-time greats in a halftime ceremony, the Big Dog had a stare and smile toward the baseline.

That's where Gelen Robinson, Glenn's youngest son, was watching the ceremony, wearing his high school letterman jacket. Father then introduced his son, the incoming Boilermaker linebacker, who received a loud ovation from the Mackey Arena crowd.

Purdue is a special place for Robinson. Thursday night brought more memories he won't soon forget.

"This is a special moment," Robinson said. "This is the foundation of my career. If it wasn't for Purdue, I don't know where I would be, where I would've gone and what kind of NBA career I would've had."

As it turned out, Robinson had a stellar NBA career. The first overall pick of the 1994 draft, he was a two-time All-Star and champion with the 2005 San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 20.7 points per game over the span of 11 seasons.

But Thursday was about Robinson's time in West Lafayette, where he earned National Player of the Year honors in eight forms during an impressive career with coach Gene Keady. In speaking of his former teammate, current coach Matt Painter said it's Robinson and Rick Mount as the two greatest Boilermakers.

"Very rarely are you around greatness," Painter said. "He was great."

Robinson entered the Purdue program as a slender, undersized forward, but would become the Big Dog over time. Coach Keady was there to encourage him to become a dominating center, and he progressed throughout his four years.

"[Keady] gave me the confidence to go out and work on those things," Robinson said.

Memories returned to Robinson as he was honored on Keady Court. He recalled one of his fondest moments, the 49-point game against Illinois on Senior Night. But there was a new pride—what his sons have accomplished.

Glenn Robinson III, the eldest child, is a star at Michigan who played for the championship last season. He has NBA aspirations after his time in Ann Arbor. His youngest son never considered basketball, but wanted to be a Boilermaker.

Gelen Robinson picked Purdue on his own, that after earning a scholarship offer from the Boilermakers and several other Big Ten schools. This wasn't a generous offer to a legacy; the linebacker is poised to become a star on the gridiron at Purdue. He'll do so donning his father's 13 on the jersey.

"It's like a reincarnation," Glenn said. "It's me all over again. I feel like I'm watching myself out there. That's special, to be able to come to Purdue, but he earned a scholarship. He did it on his own.

"That's the goal. Everybody wants to see their kids succeed in whatever they do."

Long after Purdue had fallen to Michigan State, there was Robinson alongside friend Brian Cardinal, signing autographs for fans and posing for pictures. Off to the side was Gelen, taking in his father's moment.

A new Robinson legacy is set to form, something the Big Dog can cherish.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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