By Brian Taylor
Being a number one, first-overall draft pick carries a lot of heavy expectations, pressure and scrutiny. But in 1994, one Naismith College Player of the Year paid no heed to that, and demanded one of the most ridiculous rookie contracts in the history of sports, and that one audacious guy was Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson.
There are rookies that come in with hype from college and then carry that over into the League, but Robinson, who was absolutely insane at Perdue, looked like a sure shot for whoever picked him up at the draft. Before Robinson had even stepped onto and NBA floor, he made some waves, amplifying his name.
For starters, the “Big Dog” had it all, the smooth jumper, the handles, and the hops, all tied up in a neat 6’7” package. The problem was that no team in their right mind was going to pay $100 million bucks (pun intended) for said package. I don’t know if Dr. Evil was his agent, but Glenn was serious about his price tag after the Bucks selected him first overall. The Bucks’ franchise was worth $77 million back in 94’, so you could imagine the freak-out-factor this had on the national sports media. Not only that, but Robinson had drawn the ire of Utah veteran Antoine Carr, who already laid claim to the nickname “Big Dog”.
Before that season started, Herb Kohl (who owns the Bucks and Kohl’s and is also a Wisconsin Senator) brought Robinson back to earth with a $68.15 million dollar guaranteed contract. It was then thought to be the most expensive rookie contract of all time, and in the process, Robinson pissed off a lot of Bucks’ fans, but he turned out to be decent.
As a member of that 1994 rookie class (which featured Juwan Howard, J-Kidd and Grant Hill) Glenn led all rooks in scoring, firing at a 21.9 ppg clip. He was named to the All-Rookie team for that year, earning numerous honors along the way. In 1996, he was even named to the Olympic team, but couldn’t play due to injury.
It wasn’t until the 98’-99’ season that it all came together for Glenn, as the team hired a new coach (George Karl) and GM of GMs’ (Ernie Grunfeld) together with veteran point guard Sam Cassell from the Martian National Team. With those pieces in place, Milwaukee returned to the playoffs annually, culminating with an Eastern Conference Finals appearance against A.I. and the 76ers in 2001.
Losing left a really bitter taste in Glenn’s mouth, and no amount of Orbit gum could’ve gotten rid of it, so he lashed out at teammate Ray Allen, saying he was “soft” and that he wilted under the pressure. Since that wasn’t a good way to endear one’s self to a team, (and since Ray Allen was more of a true star anyway), Milwaukee shipped Glenn down south to Atlanta for Toni Kukoc. Robinson still put up All-Star worthy numbers, but he garnered the unscrupulous reputation of Locker Room Cancer (e.g.: “Christian Laettner”).
After a year with the Hawks, Glenn was on the move again, this time to Philly in a four-team deal (its how Spree got to NY). Robinson had a mediocre season in Illadelph before getting hurt and staying on the IR for most of 2005. He was traded to the Hornets before being waived and scooped up by the San Antonio Spurs, who were looking for another shooter during their title run. It was after that transaction that Glenn Robinson (by default) was crowned an NBA Champion. Don’t worry, I made the same face you just made after reading that sentence, but it’s legit, he has a ring.
If you want to hear and see how folks reacted to Glenn’s rookie demands, peep this.