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Life of a Lopez

A look inside the strange world of Stanford's 7-foot-1 twins

Posted: Monday March 24, 2008 10:24AM; Updated: Monday March 24, 2008 11:55AM
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By Ramona Shelburne

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- From his seat 10 rows behind the Stanford bench, Alex Lopez had the perfect view of his younger brother, Brook's, game-winning shot against Marquette.

The Lopez brothers not only collect Disney figurines, but they also have an unhealthy fascination with Michael Jackson.
The Lopez brothers not only collect Disney figurines, but they also have an unhealthy fascination with Michael Jackson.
John Burgess/SI
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"I was frozen,'' Alex said. "I thought he missed. I mean, he was behind the backboard. But it went in."

Replay after replay of the shot was shown on the big screen above the court and no matter how many times the play was shown, one thing was clear: That shot had no business going in.

Unless ...

"Maybe Tinkerbell sprinkled a little bit of pixie dust on that shot,'' Brook's mother Deborah Ledford said.

Considering this is Brook Lopez we're talking about, she just might be right. If anyone has a little magic pixie dust coming to them, it's Brook and his twin brother, Robin.

Their dorm rooms at Stanford are filled with Disney figurines. They know every single shred of Disney trivia. Names of obscure characters, the actors who voiced every part, Walt Disney's favorite color. And being Stanford students, they have been known to get into spirited intellectual debates on the relative merits of traditional animation versus computer generated characters.

So was it pure coincidence that Brook's miraculous shot took place just a few miles from the Magic Kingdom?

"I don't know,'' Ledford said. "It was a pretty hard shot to make.''

To his teammates and coaches though, it was just Brook being Brook. "We see him do stuff like that all the time in practice,'' said assistant coach Doug Oliver, who was pressed into emergency duty when head coach Trent Johnson was ejected late in the first half. "He does those kind of things, he can contort his body, he's just so athletic for a seven-footer.''

With Stanford heading to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001, the rest of the country will have a chance to get to know the Cardinal's irrepressible, seven-foot tall, Disney-loving, NBA-bound Lopez twins for themselves.

Stanford play-by-play announcer Dave Flemming had no idea what to expect when he first met the twins from Fresno a couple of years ago.

They arrived on campus with big-time hype. Flemming, like many others, expected them to have a big-time attitude too. He was completely wrong.

"I think more than anything, the impression you get when you're around them is that they still want to be kids. There's an innocence there that I find very refreshing,'' he said. "In an age when players get to this level and all they think about is professional basketball and material stuff and what being a basketball star might get for them, these kids are the total opposite. They don't think about any of those things. They just like playing and being around their team and being around each other. And then they want to do other things outside of basketball, too.''

Like acting in Gaieties, Stanford's annual pre-Big Game theatrical roast of Cal. Or plotting their own comic books. Along with a couple of their friends, they've created a bunch of cartoon characters they hope could someday be starring in their very own comic book. Robin would be the artist; Brook, the writer.

Their imagination, sunny outlook, quick wit and California-cool demeanor have made the Lopez twins, quite literally, the biggest men on Stanford's campus.

Robin is dating Stanford's current most famous female coed, golf phenom Michelle Wie, although both have tried to keep things as quiet as possible. And whenever Brook decides to enter the NBA draft, he's projected as a top-five pick.

For the most part, their teammates have tried to treat them like any other sophomores.

Asked about the differences between the two brothers, senior captain Taj Finger couldn't help but reveal, to the entire world, that, "Robin also loves to sing off the court.''

Added shooting guard Anthony Goods: "Robin loves to sing. Brook loves to tell Robin to shut up.''

And is the singing good?

"It's an acquired taste,'' Goods said, laughing. "Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson. Just, you know, just depends on what he feels like at that time.''

Saturday night, after Brook hit the game-winner in Stanford's 82-81 win over Marquette, there was quite a bit of singing coming from the Stanford section.

The band played the school fight song, Free's All Right Now' about 20 times. The Stanford tree bounced, and twirled and did whatever the heck else the Stanford tree does.

Brook smiled, then jumped into the arms of a teammate.

"I guess I got a nice bounce or something,'' Brook said.

Then again, maybe Tinkerbell was involved.

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