Things got a bit testy in the Bossier gymnasium following a dramatic Friday night finish. It had nothing to do with the tense final moments of a chippy affair between Bossier and Ellender or the controversial buzzer beater that helped the Bearkats punch a ticket to the Top 28.
The near-fracas involved a father and a son.
“Oh, me! Hands down,” Larry Robinson III, a Bossier senior, said when asked who would win a one-on-one battle against his father. “I started beating him when I was 15. He doesn’t want to play me anymore.”
As soon as the 17-year-old made the bold statement, the fire in the eyes of Larry Robinson II was visible. Decades removed from his prime, the competitive juices still boil as strong as they did when he electrified an overflowing Gold Dome en route to becoming a Centenary College legend.
“I keep the tennis shoes (in the car),” said dad, who claims he’s never lost to his son. “We can get out there right now in front of this crowd.”
The Robinsons’ banter is lathered in love and laced with a will to succeed. The same bond exists away from the court, even though the two live 200 miles apart.
“He’s my role model, my best friend,” Larry III said. “I can come to him anytime I need anything. He’s been there for me my whole life. I’m proud of him.”
Although Larry III has made it clear he wants to step out of his father’s shadow and make his “own stories” on the basketball court, one of the reasons he’s already well on his way is due to some special DNA.
Robinson II played for eight different NBA teams, won a world championship with the Houston Rockets in 1994, made stops in Venezuela, France, Philippines and many places in between during his 15-year career.
However, his prep days didn’t offer anything spectacular (Airline never made the state tournament). With the Class 4A semifinals up next for Bossier, there is at least one game left in his son’s “unbelievable” high school journey.
Like his dad, Larry III began his prep days with the Vikings. After two years at Airline, a long father-son discussion produced the possibility of a move to Bossier High, but logistics (Larry II lives in Dallas) made the decision more difficult.
Following a two-hour conversation with (Bossier head coach) Jeremiah Williams, dad was at ease with the move.
“Coach assured me, ‘I’ll take care of your son when you’re not around,’” Larry II said. “And he’s been doing it. It’s special.
“Watching my son, it just gives you goose bumps. I yell and cheer like I’m watching an NBA game.”
Williams played rec ball with Larry II years ago and was excited to take on his legacy.
“I take care of (Larry III) like I take care of all my kids,” Williams said. “We love them all. His dad knew I would take care of him and put him in the best possible situation to where he could be successful.”
Williams sees plenty of Larry II in Larry III.
“They are both students of the game,” he said. “I just wish Larry III would have got some of that 6-5 (height).”
Larry III is listed at 6-feet tall, but leads the Bearkats in scoring (14.0 points per game) and steals (1.5).
Friday’s frenetic finish triggered the memory of many emotional moments along Kings Highway and in a Gentlemen uniform for Larry II — the homemade “Larry-O-Meter” that kept track of No. 20’s points and steals and the time he was mobbed at midcourt following a buzzer beater to defeat UALR (the Trans American Athletic Conference rival) at the Gold Dome in 1990.
“It was 104-103 I think,” said Robinson, who twice led the Gents to within a game of the NCAA Tournament.
“I get a kick out of listening to how people used to go crazy watching him,” Larry II said.
Dad says he misses his time at Centenary “every day.”
“My heart is always going to be at Centenary gym,” he said. “Centenary made me become the man that I am. I learned how to live in the world because of Centenary. I was exposed to a lot of cultures and learned how to conduct myself.”
Larry III is about to look at his options for the next level and his father is disappointed Centenary — the school no longer plays Division I —won’t be on the list.
“There probably wouldn’t even have to be a discussion,” Larry II said. “That’s the business part of it. They got away from the one thing that could have maybe changed that decision — the kids. There is a lot of talent, our kids, in this area going elsewhere because of that decision.”
Although he doesn’t know where he’ll study just yet, Larry III, who wears No. 3 and carries a 3.5 GPA, already plans to major in psychology and become a mental therapist.
“This journey is where the parenting comes in,” Larry II said. “The recruiting process is pretty special. A lot of kids do this by themselves. To be with him step by step is amazing. It’s going to be his call, but I’ll give him guidance.”
However, there is a championship to focus on first. And no matter the outcome, a breakthrough in Lake Charles is certain. Uncomfortable with wearing green (Airline and Bossier were rivals during Larry II’s days), dad said he’ll finally don Bearkats colors for Thursday’s 1 p.m. tip.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s all about him and this journey this team is on.”
Said Larry III: “He doesn’t have a choice now.”
Dad chuckled and introduced a second part of the deal.
“You’re fearless,” Larry II told his son. “I want you to win the state championship, but after we’ll do like Rocky and Apollo Creed and go one-on-one.”