This is a picture of the face of a bulldog behind the words: Glenn Robinson's Nickname - the Big Dog!

Glenn Robinson’s Nickname: How He Became The Big Dog!

Glenn Robinson’s nickname Big Dog was given to him by a custodian at Purdue University. The custodian saw him dominate at practice and told a Purdue assistant coach that they needed to “let the Big Dog eat”. The coach loved the phrase and used it enough that it stuck. 

What College Did Glenn Robinson Play For?

Glenn Robinson grew up in Indiana. He was raised by a single mother and went to high school at Theodore Roosevelt High School in his hometown of Gary, Indiana.

It was at Roosevelt High where Robinson got his start in basketball. Robinson, unsurprisingly, was a star in high school. 

He led his high school team to a state title in his senior year, won Indiana’s Mr. Basketball and was named a McDonald’s All American. 

Robinson was heavily recruited in high school including by Frank Kendrick, Purdue University basketball coach Gene Keady’s right hand man.

Kendrick won the recruiting war and Robinson decided to attend Purdue University after high school. 

Why was Glenn Robinson’s Nickname Big Dog? 

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Glenn Robinson Poster

Robinson was not immediately eligible at Purdue due to the academic requirements put in place by Proposition 48. Prop 48 is an NCAA rule that sets minimum grades and test scores high school athletes must meet to become immediately eligible.

Robinson had to sit out his freshman year, but he kept busy. Robinson played a lot of pickup including in Mackey Arena where Purdue played games.

A custodian at Mackey Arena gave Robinson the nickname Big Dog during his non-playing freshman year. The custodian watched Robinson dominate a practice game, turned to Purdue Assistant coach Frank Kendrick and said “You’ve got to let the  big dog eat”. 

Kendrick ran with the quote repeating it over and over to encourage Robinson’s teammates to feed him the ball. 

Robinson loved it as much as Kendrick. That is understandable. The Big Dog is one of the better nicknames in the history of sports. 

Robinson liked the name so much he got it tattooed on his chest alongside a picture of a snarling bulldog wearing a spiked collar. 

Robinson also very much lived up to the name in his Purdue years. The Big Dog scored 24 points and grabbed nearly 10 rebounds per game in his first season playing at Purdue. The team won only 18 games but Robinson was named 2nd team All American.

In his junior season, his second season playing at Purdue, Robinson really became the Big Dog. He scored 30 points per game, grabbed 11 boards, and helped the team win 29 games. 

Big Dog led the Boilermakers to the Elite Eight and won the Naismith and Wooden awards as the nation’s top college basketball player.

He also became the number one overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft after leaving Purdue following his junior season. That draft had some real talent too: Robinson was the consensus top pick but he was chosen ahead of Hall of Famers Grant Hill and Jason Kidd. 

The Big Dog went on to have a decent but unspectacular NBA career. Early in his career, he was highly regarded: he was named to the 1996 Dream Team 3, but had to back out at the last minute due to injuries. 

Robinson was replaced by another man with an all-time nickname: The Glove, Gary Payton. 

But Robinson’s high ranking by NBA observers did not last. 

He  made two All Star games but was more of a player who put up empty stats: he could fill it up but that never seemed to add up to much winning for his teams. 

I wrote here that the Big Dog is unlikely to make the Hall of Fame, but if he ever did it might be mostly based on his two amazing college years.

If there was a Hall of Fame for nicknames, Big Dog would have to be in it. 

Does Glenn Robinson Have a Ring? 

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Glenn Robinson Hawks Poster

While his NBA career was mostly not successful in terms of winning, Glenn Robinson actually did win a ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005. 

It was Big Dog’s last year in the NBA  and Robinson barely played for the Spurs. The team featured Tim Duncan, Manu Ginnobili and Tony Parker.

Robinson played fewer than 5 minutes per game for the team in the Finals. He was a bit part – not even really a role player. 

That Spurs team did feature one of the NBA’s all-time best role players: Big Shot Bob a.k.a. Robert Horry.  But Horry, who won championships like he was an all-time great, played 29 minutes per game for the team in the Finals. 

Again, Robinson played less than five. 

Glenn Robinson won an NBA title, but he played almost no role in winning it. The Spurs did not ask him back for another season and Robinson retired following the 2005 title. 

Summary: Glen Robinson’s Nickname

Glenn Robinson’s nickname Big Dog comes from his college years. He got the name from a custodian at the arena where his Purdue Boilermakers played games. The custodian said “You’ve got to let the Big Dog eat” after watching Robinson play and the name stuck. 

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