Every once in a while, sport is bigger than life. Over the last month, Thomas Robinson, KU's sophomore power forward has found that life is bigger than any sport at any time. Last night, Robinson and the Kansas Jayhawks routed in-state rival Kansas State 90-66. When Kansas needed him most, Robinson showed up in the midst of a devastating personal crisis.
Kansas and the whole world would have forgiven Robinson for not being at last night's contest. Just 48 hours earlier, Robinson and the entire Jayhawk team laid to rest his mother, Lisa, in Washington D.C. Robinson also paid his final respects to his grandmother and grandfather in the previous 30 days.
In a truly remarkable show of resolve, Robinson not only played for the Jayhawks, he turned in a masterful performance that inspired his teammates and the entire Jayhawk Nation.
KU raced out of the gate, building a 15-2 lead before a sellout crowd at storied Allen Fieldhouse. At the 16:47 mark, Robinson stood at the scorers table to enter the contest. As he took the floor, the roof seemed to be lifted off the building as those in attendance showed their support of Robinson being present for the game after such a tremendous loss.
The game was ragged at times, but KU left no doubt as to the inevitable outcome. Many rebounds were touched several times before being corralled. Loose balls were fiercely contested. Perhaps the worst sign of things to come for the visiting Wildcats was woeful shooting in the first half (7-36 for 19.4 percent).
KU took a 37-20 lead into the half, with Robinson having tallied just two free throws at that point. Markieff Morris paced a balanced scoring attack for the Jayhawks, contributing 20 points and nine rebounds. Josh Selby showed early shooting touch, knocking down outside shots and a driving runner at the basket.
K-State could not muster any serious threat to the Kansas onslaught. Jacob Pullen, who is highly celebrated as one of the nation's best guards dropped 21 on the Jayhawks, most of which came late in the second half after the game was well in hand for KU. Tyshawn Taylor hounded Pullen in the first half, limiting the talented guard to 2-10 shooting from the floor.
For the game, Kansas shot a sizzling 61.8 percent from the floor. They did the most damage in the paint as Robinson, Marcus and Markieff Morris, along with Mario Little combined for 53 points. KU scored 48 of their final tally in the painted area of the floor.
The Wildcat defense seemed lethargic as KU ran by them, around them and dunked over them. Robinson played inspired basketball in the second half, draining seven of eight attempts from the floor, including three vicious dunks. The last hammer of Robinson's drew a technical foul for slapping the backboard. He finished the game with 17 points and nine rebounds.
There are few moments in life that can provide comfort to someone during a time of loss, like the death of a loved one. Time is a healer of sorts. Over time, the human spirit is able to distance itself from hurt. Support from loved ones, teammates and a community can also be tremendous sources of comfort.
What makes Thomas Robinson and his performance last night so remarkable is the scope of loss he sustained. The woman who birthed him was buried 48 hours earlier. He now has a seven-year-old sister looking to him for comfort and guidance.
The most memorable moment of the night came when Robinson left the court. Physically and emotionally exhausted, he jogged toward the Kansas bench, paused and saluted the crowd, as if to say thank you for the outpouring of love and support.
Thomas Robinson inspires us all with his strength and resolve in the time of crisis. He showed that in spades on Saturday night. So, here's to you Mrs. Robinson, you raised a good one.