Former Kansas basketball guard Ryan Robertson, his wife Andrea — a former Missouri soccer player — and their three children are all Jayhawk fans. However, they scheduled previous activities for this weekend and thus will be unable to attend Sunday’s Kansas-Missouri exhibition basketball game at the Sprint Center.
“My kids are such KU nuts now. My guess is they’ll get 40 bucks out of my household (for pay-per-view telecast) one way or another,” 1999 KU graduate Robertson said in a phone conversation from St. Charles, Mo., where he lives and also works for Goldman Sachs.
Robertson — he went 1-3 versus the Tigers in Columbia, 3-1 at Allen Fieldhouse and 1-0 in Kansas City, for a career record of 5-4 versus the Tigers — is happy to contribute his $40 to hurricane relief while getting to see his alma mater play basketball 15 practices into the season.
“I’d tell you as a fan, somebody who is now removed from everything and sits back and watches, I’m kind of glad they are playing,” Robertson said of the rivals.
The former McDonald’s All-American was booed every single time he touched the ball during the four games versus the Tigers in Columbia.
“Mizzou’s going to be good. They’ve got good young players. Of course we’re going to be good. I think it’ll be really fun. I’m glad coach (Bill) Self reached out to coach (Cuonzo) Martin and they got something done. There’s a good cause behind it, so as a fan I’m excited,” Robertson added.
All proceeds from the 3 p.m. exhibition game at the Sprint Center will go toward hurricane relief.
“Publicly when I’m out and about at work … in Missouri I will tell you there’s a lot more, ‘Hey, why hasn’t this happened before? Why is coach Self adamant about not playing?’ ’’ Robertson said.
“It’s pretty evident, at least in Missouri, coach Self is the reason why the rivalry didn’t continue for those last five years (since 2012) or however long it’s been (since MU left the Big 12 for SEC). Now that they’ve got this one, I hear more people saying, ‘Hey good, I’m glad they are playing and I hope it continues.’ ’’
Robertson — he says he holds no grudge versus Missouri fans for the booing — actually is OK with only playing MU on the exhibition circuit.
“Not because of what I went through … (but) I’m a little bit closer on coach Self’s side to be perfectly honest,” Robertson, 41, said. “I kind of wonder what the upside is for us (playing MU). I think we are doing Mizzou more of a favor playing them than doing us a favor frankly. I mean, yeah, it’s sort of a nice thing to have a rivalry game, but let’s be honest. Without sounding too high on ourselves, the reality is we’re sort of the team that has the leverage in this relationship. We can play anybody we want to play. For that matter, everybody wants to play us.
“The idea that we would sort of help Mizzou out, play a game in Kansas City, help them get publicity, help them get on national television, I understand and am closer to coach Self’s perspective on that, but again as a fan and somebody that just wants to see good basketball I’m kind of looking forward to seeing Michael Porter Jr., and Devonté (Graham) go at it,” Robertson noted.
Robertson said he felt the players in MU-KU rivalry games generally were on good behavior and held a respect for each other.
“I wasn’t crazy about their fans. I’m still not crazy about their fans,” Robertson said. “Mizzou the school and Mizzou the players … my perspective is I just wanted to beat them so bad. You have to remember, when I came home for the summer I was working out with, or seeing, Corey Tate, Brian Grawer and Julian Winfield, all the St. Louis guys playing at Mizzou. I felt, ‘We’ve got to win because I don’t want to hear about it in the summer.’ I just didn’t like their fans. Do I think they are some of the more rambunctious sort of obnoxious fans in the Big 12 at the time? Yes I do, and I’m not alone in that. I think a lot of people think that. That part of it is what it is. The school itself and now coach Martin … he’s going to be great. I think there’s going to be a lot of positive things.”