"You could just tell in his body language," Tim Jr. says. "You see your mom, your sisters cheering for you, and you see your dad with that look in his eyes, and that facial expression: Is he going to make a shot? Is he going to go out there and play ball, or is he going to just waste my time?"
Tim Sr. threatened to stop taking Tim Jr. to tournaments if he didn't take the game more seriously. And when Junior responded by playing harder, Senior rode him harder. Tim Jr. would score a bunch for Palmetto Senior High, and Tim Sr. would say it wasn't enough. Father and son would give each other the silent treatment for days. At meals they would refuse to look at each other.
Tim Jr. thought there was only one way to win the argument: make it to the pros. "You have the mind-set of, Your dad is an NBA player, so his son's probably going to play in the NBA," Tim Jr. says. "I was trying to play basketball to make my dad happy, to try to get to where he is."
But for Tim Sr. it wasn't about the NBA. It was about his own attitude during those summer pickup games in Chicago. He wanted his son to breathe the game like he had—to play every possession as if he would get kicked off the court if he lost.
Tim Sr. loved sitting on his couch and watching basketball. Tim Jr. loved it too. But Senior would sit on the couch at night, and Junior refused to join him. "My son didn't want to watch basketball with me because he was upset with what I said to him about his game," Tim Sr. says. "I didn't like that. I want my kids to be around me."
One day, at the end of Tim Jr.'s junior year at Palmetto, Tim Sr. sat near the top of the stands, away from his family, and just watched. Michigan had offered Tim Jr. a scholarship, and Tim Sr. finally saw why: His son had earned it. He found Tim Jr. afterward and said he was sorry. "That was my fault," Tim Sr. says. "I was taking all the fun away from him. It shouldn't have been that way. I should have been happy for him."
Tim Sr. promised he would change.
Glenn Robinson III never stopped longing. His father says, "He didn't have to take to [basketball] in order to be closer to me," but basketball did bring the two closer, and Glenn III loved that. He would call his dad after Big Dog's NBA games to analyze what he'd seen: adjustments to pick-and-rolls, curls in the paint, spacing—nuances even some college players don't understand.
Publicly, Glenn III distanced himself from his father's name. His high school teammates called him Tre instead of Glenn. He never pulled his socks up high like his dad did, and he was never Little Dog. But privately Glenn III kept chasing that image on his TV set.
He played football (wide receiver) until his freshman year in high school and received several recruiting letters before quitting the sport. Shantelle Clay-Erving says her son quit because he got hurt. "She thinks that's the reason," Glenn says. "The reason was, I wanted to focus on basketball." He hadn't even played varsity hoops yet. But the game had its grip on him.