Gabbing about comics with Portland Trailblazer Robin Lopez
by rick olivares
Seven-foot Portland Trailblazers center Robin Lopez is an unabashed fan of comic books and all its four-colored glory. “Color me a fan,” said Lopez with unbridled glee.
The American basketball player is in Manila for the first ever Gatorade NBA Training Center as well as some charity work for Yolanda victims in Cebu with Portland teammate Wesley Matthews and former NBA champion and Coach of the Year Avery Johnson.
During a break in the training camp for elite college athletes as well as some pro hopefuls, Lopez took the time to engage in some geek talk.
“My older brothers, Alex and Chris, grew up reading Marvel and DC,” revealed Robin. “Brook and I lean heavier to the DC side. But that doesn’t mean we don’t read other titles. I do. There’s simply a lot out there.”
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with mature comics,” added Lopez. “A lot of what passed for entertainment in the 1950s and 1960s was also heavy and mature. I think as long as it is done the right way then it’s all good. But I like the variety that is out there today for comic book fans. Even for those with no knowledge about them – there are a lot of books that can serve as jumping on points for them.”
In spite of the NBA grind, Lopez finds the time to indulge in what has been a lifelong hobby. “Yeah, there’s down time between practices, film viewing, team meetings, and games. I make sure to get a lot of rest and to focus on the next game we’re playing. But I always find time to read. When you’re a fan, you’re a fan! And my brother and I aren’t the only NBA players who are comic geeks. There’s Kevin Garnett and LeBron James who are also fans. I heard Tim Duncan is another fan too.”
The former Stanford Cardinal took some time to also name his five favorite DC characters. “There’s a lot,” pointed out Lopez. “But naming them would be easy. The Wally West Flash. I love what Mark Waid did for the character – the Speed Force and the Return of Barry Allen storyline are to my mind some of the best Flash stories.”
“I also like Impulse. Another speedster – can you tell I am a Flash fan? (laughs). The Kyle Rayner Green Lantern. The Tim Drake Robin, and Cyclone of the Justice Society of America. These are the characters I grew up reading.”
Of the new DC titles, Lopez is geeking out on Grant Morrison’s “Multiversity,” a limited series from DC’s The New 52 universe that brings back the multiple earths and universes that once populated DC’s line of comics.
“I am a huge Grant Morrison fan. And you can add being a fan of the original multiverse to that so it’s a no-brainer that I am reading ‘Multiversity.’ Captain Carrot never looked so good, man!”
Speaking of books, he’s reading, Lopez said that he would recommend the following to newbies to comic books: “Young Justice. I figure you gotta be young to get into comics and to appreciate them. Young Justice is something they could identify with. I’d also recommend Grant Morrison’s JLA storyline of ‘Rock of Ages’. The ‘Who is Donna Troy’ story from Teen Titans it a short one but sweet. And I said this earlier, ‘The Return of Barry Allen’ in the Flash. And if there’s a multiverse story that has to be in there, it has to be ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths.’”
Come tip-off in late October, this will be Lopez’ seventh NBA season. While he intends to play in the league for as long as he can, he also hopes to make use of the connections and his popularity as a means to get into comics.
“I have all these ideas in my head. I like coming up with concepts while Brook is the one who writes them. We’re doing a little work now and it would be cool to have them published one day. As a long time fan, that would just be surreal. I hope people will like it though (laughs).”