Playing in Staples Center is ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience for TCU

TCU’s Jamie Dixon “excited” for first day of hoops practice

The TCU men's basketball team officially opened practice on Thursday. The Frogs open their season in 42 days against Cal State Bakersfield.
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The TCU men's basketball team officially opened practice on Thursday. The Frogs open their season in 42 days against Cal State Bakersfield.

Alex Robinson called Kobe’s locker a year ago.

The TCU point guard researched and knew exactly which locker Kobe Bryant had in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room. That’s the locker he had for TCU’s 84-80 victory over Nevada last season at the Staples Center.

He would like to have the same locker tonight when TCU makes a return trip to the Staples Center. TCU and USC square off as part of a triple-header event at the marquee arena.

TCU (6-1) and USC (5-3) is the middle game of the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic with a scheduled tip off for 8:30 p.m. St. Mary’s and New Mexico is the first game, and Arizona State- Nevada is the finale.

Unfortunately for Robinson and TCU, the Frogs won’t have the Lakers’ locker room this year like it did last season.

TCU and SMU play its annual men's basketball on Wednesday. TCU guard and DFW native Alex Robinson talks about the game and his season.

“I remember when I went to the locker room, I had to make sure I had Kobe’s locker,” Robinson said. “I knew for sure which one was Kobe’s and I went right over there. I found out where LeBron [James] locker is and I think it’s the exact same locker as Kobe head. So I’m heading right to the same locker.”

Shortly after, Robinson heard the bad news that TCU would be in one of the NHL locker rooms this time around.

Still, that doesn’t diminish the significance of playing in one of the more storied venues of the NBA. Sure, the Staples Center doesn’t have the history or mystique of New York’s Madison Square Garden, but it’s been home to some of the greats since it opened in 1999.

The Lakers, of course, have more household names than the LA Clippers in the rafters.

That’s what struck Robinson when he first walked into the venue, looking up and seeing all of the greats such as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the championship seasons commemorated in the rafters.

“Playing in the Staples Center in general is like a once in a lifetime experience,” said Robinson, the Mansfield Timberview product who is chasing the school’s all-time assists record.

“Being able to do it again? I can’t wait. It’s a great atmosphere. It’s a great event. So I can’t wait. I know our players can’t wait.

Robinson believes TCU will have plenty of support, too. TCU draws plenty of students from Southern California.

TCU coach Jamie Dixon grew up in Southern California, and so did Robinson’s mom Darla (who played on the TCU women’s basketball team in the early 1980s).

Dixon understands the value of playing in a venue such as the Staples Center, especially with his recruiting efforts in the Southern California area.

It also worked out this season as USC will return the favor next season for a non-conference game to open Dickies Arena.

“Staples Center is a great opportunity,” Dixon said. “I don’t know how often we can do it, but two years in a row … it’s been a good thing for us.”

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