Thomas Robinson’s jersey will be retired Saturday
photo by: Nick Krug
Updated 3 p.m. Dec. 5:
Kansas great Thomas Robinson will have his jersey retired at halftime of Saturday’s game against Missouri, KU coach Bill Self said on his “Hawk Talk” radio show Monday night.
Self called the gesture and opponent “perfectly fitting.”
“He’s been back, but this will mean a ton to him, because he loves this place and this place obviously changed his life,” Self said.
The 6-foot-10 forward Robinson, who wore No. 0 at KU, accomplished a great deal over his three seasons in Lawrence, including conference player of the year and All-American honors as he led the Jayhawks to the 2012 national championship game.
But one of his most famous performances came versus Missouri. In the final installment of the rivalry that featured the Jayhawks and Tigers as conference foes (before it eventually got renewed as a nonconference game in 2021), Robinson’s 3-point play at the end of regulation and ensuing block on Phil Pressey allowed KU to force overtime. The Jayhawks had been down as many as 19 points but rallied to win 87-86 in one of the defining moments of that memorable campaign, as Robinson racked up 28 points and 12 rebounds.
Robinson also endured tragedy earlier in his KU career, as a sophomore, when his mother and grandparents died in the span of a month. Self recalled on Monday the support that KU fans offered Robinson and his little sister Jayla during that time, calling it “very remarkable by all of you.”
He noted that the timing for the jersey retirement is appropriate because Robinson has offered his support to current Jayhawk KJ Adams Jr., whose mother Yvonne died Nov. 17 after battling cancer.
“When the situation happened with KJ and his family, Thomas was one of the first ones to reach out to say, ‘How can I help?'” Self said.
Self added that he expects Robinson’s family and former teammates to be in attendance Saturday, along with Angel Morris, the mother of Marcus and Markieff Morris who offered her support to Robinson during that difficult time in the winter of 2011.
Robinson later became the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA Draft. He spent five seasons in the NBA and has played in assorted professional leagues since.
Robinson also played for the Mass Street Collective’s KU alumni team in last summer’s edition of The Basketball Tournament and scored the game-winning points in both of his team’s victories, including against the Show Me Squad, a Missouri alumni team.
The skinny on “Skinny”
Following Self’s declaration Monday night, KU also announced Tuesday that it will retire Bill “Skinny” Johnson’s No. 33 jersey on Jan. 22 against Cincinnati.
An Oklahoma City native, Johnson played three seasons for Phog Allen and won a conference title each year. He was named an All-American by College Humor in 1933 and has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Johnson died in 1980 and will be represented by his son and other family members at the retirement ceremony next month, according to a KU press release.