Brother vs. Brother: Bulls' Lopez finally surpasses his twin brother
Holidays are a time for family and there's a pretty good family story going on with the Bulls.
All things considered, this is pretty amazing: Robin Lopez has been a better player than twin brother Brook this season.
The Lopez twins are 29 years old and playing their 10th NBA seasons. They've always had the reputation of Brook being the scorer, while Robin is more of a defensive specialist. Brook played in the All-Star Game in 2013.
Prior to this season, Robin has never come close to outscoring Brook. But through Friday's action, Robin has the higher scoring average 13.1 to 12.8 and Robin has outscored his brother in the last two head-to-head meetings, something that had never happened before in their NBA careers.
I thought Robin would have some entertaining comments about this phenomenon. He's made some good jokes in the past about his self-proclaimed status as the superior twin.
But outside of a couple sarcastic comments, he took this subject in stride.
"I guess the obvious is being shown after 10 years, right?" Lopez said. "No, it's whatever. It's always an adjustment going to a new team. That's something I've learned throughout my career."
Brook Lopez changed teams for the first time last summer, getting traded from the Nets to the Lakers. Robin is an old pro at adjusting to new homes, having played for Phoenix, New Orleans, Portland and New York before joining the Bulls before last season.
Brook's scoring has taken a nose-dive with a Lakers team focused on developing their younger players and he's currently sidelined by an ankle injury. He averaged 20 points in each of the past two seasons in Brooklyn.
Robin, meanwhile, just keeps improving. He's averaging career-highs in points and assists, while knocking down the first three 3-point baskets of his career.
He did confirm the roles the twins have played in the NBA are pretty much the way it has always been.
"I enjoy being a well-rounded player. I'm a well-rounded player. I'm a well-rounded human," Robin said. "I think our roles were pretty defined growing up. He likes scoring the basketball. I like doing a lot of the little things, playing defense."
Robin's quirky personality seems well-suited for his role as one of the Bulls' veteran leaders. Sometimes he talks like the participant in a role-playing game. You wonder if he imagines himself wearing a Jedi knight robe while passing along wisdom to the younger Bulls.
"Robin's been huge. Robin's our rock," coach Fred Hoiberg said. "He's making his little hook and push shot. He's also making the extra pass to the corner. Robin and Kris (Dunn) have really developed a good chemistry out there."
The Lopez brothers have made it clear they're into Disney, comic books, graphic novels, etc. Robin is a good interview, but he never opens the door too wide. His answers are usually brief and to the point.
So I try a different question that invokes a more emotional response: Have you seen the new Star Wars movie?
"No, I haven't," he said. "I haven't heard good things, though. I've heard good things from people who haven't liked Star Wars previously. Like people have said, 'I didn't like any of the previous Star Wars movies, but I like this one,' which is a heckuva (viewpoint). That last one (2015's 'The Force Awakens') was not very good."
The trouble with bringing up Star Wars is everyone has an opinion. Others standing nearby chime in. Robin probably doesn't care that I'm old enough to have seen the original "Star Wars" on opening weekend.
So I ask again about the twins' relationship. He confirms they do check in with each other every day.
"Yeah, usually. We'll Facebook message or text, whatever," Robin said. "(We talk about) anything, as long as it's not basketball. That's not something we've outright said, but we just don't talk about it."
Brothers are an important theme among the Bulls. Justin Holiday and Jerian Grant also have brothers who play in the NBA. Denzel Valentine's older brother is an assistant coach at Loyola. Lauri Markkanen has an older brother who plays pro soccer. Dunn's older brother John was a father figure when the two lost contact with their real father.
Just don't expect Robin Lopez to get too worked about winning his sibling rivalry.
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