Uncle Drew's New Crew
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
It's been a while since we saw Uncle Drew hit the courts to school hordes of unsuspecting streetballers, but it was worth the wait. With a new (or should we say, "old") acquaintance in tow, Uncle Drew is ready to wreak havoc all over again. We spoke with "Lights Out" aka Nate Robinson, on how Part III came down and how he may take his next battle into the virtual world of videogames.
When were you first approached about participating in the Uncle Drew spots?
This summer when I got back from Portugal. My agent called me and asked me if I wanted to hear the good news or the great news. I was like, "I want to hear the great news first." So he told me about that and I was stoked, I was excited. I couldn't wait. I kept asking, "When is it?" I kept bugging him.
I've been bugging Kyrie for like the last year and a half. It finally came true.
What was the good news part of the conversation?
He said that he lowered his car insurance by switching to Geico. I was like, "Yeah, I knew that was coming." [laughs]
Did this announcement happen before you and Kyrie went at it in the summer in New York?
Actually it happened after New York. After we played against each other the Uncle Drew thing came up.
You think that had any influence?
I don't think so. I've just been bugging him. Kyrie was probably like, "We gotta give it to Nate. He's probably the best character for Uncle Drew III." It was just a perfect relationship, a perfect bond. This is just the beginning of a great relationship with the brand. I'm really looking forward to collaborating in the future with Pepsi Max and with Kyrie with Uncle Drew.
What's your character's name and did you come up with it?
Robinson: They had me as another name and I was like, "Nah, I wanna pick my own name." I picked "Lights" and it was for my uncle, his name was Orlon Robinson. He died of diabetes and his nickname was "Lights"--we called him "Uncle Lights." It was something I wanted to give as a tribute to my uncle, because my father and my grandmother on my dad's side, all think I look like him a lot. I have his personality. I love my uncle, he taught me so much. He didn't get a chance to really see me blossom in the NBA, so I got the chance to show him how much I really love him and appreciate him when they let me change the name. When I told them the story about it they were like, "That's cool, that's the perfect name." So my name is "Lights Out" Jenkins. [Ed note: Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore will play Light's sister, "Betty Lou Jenkins."]
Did he play basketball too?
He played baseball and football, him and my father, growing up as kids.
How long did it take to get the makeup down?
Robinson: Four hours, but it was worth it. I couldn't wait to be "Lights," to be my character and see myself old with the wardrobe. Those are the great chances you really get to act a fool and be somebody that you're not. I just fulfilled a character like Will Ferrell would be with Ron Burgundy and Adam Sandler as Happy Gilmore, Eddie Murphy as Professor Klump. I just really felt like I was a real deal actor and it was fantastic, it was awesome.
Where did you guys shoot this spot?
I think it was Seward Park out in Chicago. It was a great night.
What were some of the comments you heard from the players on court that night?
I got a couple people saying, "Man he kinda moves like--what's the kid's name who played for the Bulls last year?" He just moves like Nate Robinson." At first they were like the old man can throw down. I was like, "Boy, I wish when I'm this old I can still jump and dunk."
Switching gears, you used to be the videogame editor for HOOP and I talked to Mario Chalmers the other day and asked him if he played you and he said he was better.
He said he has an advantage at playing videogames against me?? He has no chance. I'm a basketball guy that loves football, so I play Madden and Call of Duty. I can't play NBA 2K cause I'm just going to shoot with myself all the time and I'm gonna lose. My kids play.
He was saying at Call of Duty.
Yeah, he has no chance at beating me at Call of Duty.
Getting back to Uncle Drew, what do you think is the future for Uncle Drew?
After you get your five guys or how many guys you're going to do, you'd have to turn it into a movie or short film. That's what I'm thinking. Each character would have a role. It's all about getting them buckets. Starting from when they were young and all the way up. You have a movie of all these old guys that are in leagues around the world. You gotta make it funny where people are gonna watch. I think that's where you take Uncle Drew. Uncle Drew and the Crew.