Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Former Kansas University guard Ryan Robertson looks more like a marathon runner than a basketball player these days. "I played so many minutes in Holland — 40 minutes a game — that I lost a lot of weight," said the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Robertson, who has just returned to the United States from the Netherlands, where he led his Eiffel Towers Nijmegen team to a runner-up finish in the Dutch Pro League championship series.
"All Kansas fans know how hard it is for me to put on weight and keep on weight," joked Robertson, who played at KU from 1995 to '99. He spent one season on the injured reserve list with the NBA's Sacramento Kings and the next with the Kansas City Knights before heading overseas.
"Over there I lost weight," he said. "Playing every minute every game and practicing three hours a day is something I hadn't done since I left KU. Now I'm going to recuperate and try to put some weight back on before we go back."
Robertson, 25, and his wife, Andrea, enjoyed their nine-month stay in Holland so much that they plan to return in August for season No. 2. Robertson, who averaged a career-best 12.8 points a game his senior year at KU, re-ignited his basketball career in Holland by averaging 19.0 points a game on 53 percent shooting. Playing strictly at the point guard position, the ex-KU combo guard dished eight assists and grabbed four rebounds per game for 36-14 Nijmegen. He finished second in league MVP voting to former Colorado player Mack Tuck of league champion Amsterdam.
"It was great getting back to being the guy everybody depended on," said Robertson, who played alongside standouts like NBA players Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Scot Pollard and Jacque Vaughn while at KU. "I remember in high school (St. Charles, Mo., West High) it was like, 'If Ryan plays well, we win. If he doesn't, we struggle.' In college we had All-Americans at every position and if I played well and we won, I'd be happy, but my play didn't necessarily determine the outcome of a game like Paul's play. I kind of missed being the guy everybody depended on."
He and Andrea, who did some modeling during the Robertsons' stay in Europe, took advantage of being a 20-something couple in a new land. "Basketball was the main thing, but being in Europe you also want to do as much fun stuff as you can," Robertson said. "Andrea and I went to Paris twice. We went to Rome and visited the Vatican. Next year we'll go to the French Alps and visit Spain."
The Robertsons will return in August for another nine-month stay unless Ryan is guaranteed a spot in an NBA team's veteran's camp, which he said is unlikely. "I'd like to play several more years and see where it takes me — to other countries or get to the NBA," Robertson said. "Last year at this time I had no idea if I'd be playing in the States, overseas or if I was done. If you'd have told me last year I'd be playing in Holland, I'd have said, 'No way.' I can't predict the future. I'm taking it one year at a time and enjoying it."
He was in the Netherlands at the time of the World Trade Center tragedy last Sept. 11. "We were in the middle of practice. The coach ran in and said something happened in the U.S. All Americans were free to go home and see what happened," Robertson said. "It started a five-day period in which none of us practiced and just watched TV.
"At the time it happened, if you can remember back to that day, nobody knew if it was over. As tragic as it was, you never knew what more could have happened. It was horrible enough. When it was obvious it was one incident, we decided to stay." He's glad he did.
"We liked it a lot," Robertson said of the Holland experience. "I'd heard nothing but nightmarish stories about playing overseas. This league was first class. Everybody spoke English, which is a big plus. "The only negative is the weather. It's like Seattle. It rains a lot."
Basketball is big, but not the main game in town. "Crowds are good, but it's nowhere like playing in Allen Fieldhouse with 16,000 fans every night," Robertson said. "The gyms were loud, but smaller. Packed they'd have 6,000 people. They love athletics and sports in Europe but basketball is probably the third or fourth sport behind soccer and speedskating."
Robertson update: Gary Bedore, Assistant Sports Editor, KU Sports, Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Ex-Jayhawk Ryan Robertson, who played last season in Greece and France, says he's had a great experience overseas since his campaign with the NBA's Sacramento Kings (1999-00).
"The thing is, you have to really want to play basketball and love playing basketball," said Robertson, who averaged about 10 points a game last year in France. "Once you go (overseas), the life isn't like the NBA. It's a very different life. You get to see a lot of different places."
Robertson, who played three years in the Netherlands, has been contemplating his future after competing for a U.S. all-star team in the international hoop summit last month in Las Vegas. The point guard/shooting guard scored 11 points in four games.
He and wife Andrea are parents of an 11-month old girl, Kylie.
"I might play in Italy. There's an outside shot. I might consider stopping playing and get a real job," Robertson said.