As 3x3 basketball makes its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games, so will many Olympic newcomers. Among them is Robbie Hummel, who spent two years playing for the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves between 2013 and 2015. He's also become a familiar face in broadcasting, working for ESPN and Big Ten Network as a college basketball analyst. Hummel's basketball career has been unique, but it's earned him a chance to showcase 3x3 basketball on sports' biggest stage for the world to see.
As part of our preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to a wide range of athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the field of play.
Here’s some of what we found out about Robbie Hummel:
Tell us about your family.
My dad (Glenn Hummel) grew up in Champaign, IL and went on to play tennis at the University of Illinois. As a kid I remember going to the local YMCA to watch him play in basketball leagues. He'd get me something to eat and drink while he played, and then after the game we'd hurry home to catch the end of the Bulls games on TV. With the Michael Jordan-led Bulls, it was something where you never wanted to miss a game.
My mom (Linda Hummel) played a wide variety of sports in high school including basketball and was also a cheerleader. She was a P.E. teacher up until I was born and coached both varsity volleyball and varsity gymnastics at Portage and Wheeler High Schools in Indiana. I have one brother (Dan Hummel). He played varsity basketball and varsity football at Valparaiso High School. He was All-State as a senior in the state of Indiana for football and went on to play college football at Grand Valley State in Michigan. My girlfriend (Logan Andrews) and I have been dating for two years this August. She went to Valparaiso High School as well and is an actress living in West Hollywood, California. She played varsity soccer and was a cheerleader in high school.
Who do you live with?
I have a house in Chicago where I currently live with my little brother and one of my close friends from high school.
Parent influence on athletic career?
My parents were incredibly influential in my athletic career. Both played sports growing up and had both my brother and I heavily involved in playing everything from as early on as I can remember. Both of them flew all over the country chasing me and Dan around in AAU basketball and then on to both college and professionally. They made it possible for us to follow our dreams and encouraged us both to believe we could accomplish anything.
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
Valparaiso has been a huge part of shaping me. It's a great place to grow up and I feel lucky that I was able to become an adult there. From a basketball perspective, the history at Valparaiso High School is outstanding. I remember watching Bryce Drew play as a kid when he was at Valpo and then went on to be a ball boy at Valparaiso University a year after he graduated. Basketball in Indiana is something that's just different and Valparaiso, like so many towns in the state, embraces that
What is your job? Why do you do it?
I work for both ESPN and Big Ten Network as a college basketball analyst. I do it to support myself and as a separate professional pursuit. It's an incredible way to stay in the game while being retired from 5-on-5, but still get to see high-level college basketball games. It can be difficult to balance work and training with all of the travel that goes in to calling a college basketball game. You find yourself in smaller college towns and constantly on the road. You have to be really disciplined and make sure you carve out time to get in work.
How much time do you train?
I usually get up around 8:30 am. I eat a good breakfast (the same thing every day) of eggs, a grapefruit and some blueberries and raspberries, and a glass of water. From there I head over to the gym and get a lift in. Usually they last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. After that, I head over to the basketball court and get in another hour or so of skill work/shooting. On top of that, I play two or three times a week of pickup in the city.
Have you ever been seriously injured?
Unfortunately I have been injured a ton. My sophomore year of college (2009) at Purdue I was in and out of the lineup with a hairline fracture of my L5 vertebrae. My junior year (2010) I suffered two ACL tears in the span of eight months. Fortunately, I played my senior year healthy, but my rookie season (2012) had to miss time early in the season with a meniscus repair. In my second season with the Timberwolves I broke my fifth metatarsal in my shooting hand and missed three months of the season (2015), and last but not least tore my labrum and dislocated my shoulder while playing in Milan, Italy (2016) and had to have my shoulder surgically repaired.
What's the most grueling workout you've ever done?
The most grueling workout I ever did was my first workout back after my second ACL tear. I did my rehab with Tim Grover (the trainer of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Michael Jordan) and was driving daily to Chicago to work out with him. For my first day, keep in mind I missed about 18 months of playing basketball over this time and hadn't done much in probably 13 months, I thought we were going to go in, take some measurements, do a light workout and call it a day. I was wrong. We did three different exercises. The first was leg press three sets of 15 with a four-second count on the way down and a four-second count on the way up. The second was an air pressurized sled push with 150 repetitions. The third was on a slide board.
I'd never thrown up in my life due to exercise until this day. I found myself puking in the trash can. I believe Tim wanted this to see if I'd have the guts to show up the next day.
Earliest memory of playing basketball?
I've got a great home video my parents took from my second or third Christmas. I'm in my grandparents' basement and they got me a Little Tikes basketball hoop. I was obsessed with it immediately. They've got video of me shooting over and over again until I finally start making baskets. My parents took me to all of the high school basketball games at Valparaiso and we always went to watch Bryce Drew playing at VU. At the same time the 90s Bulls were crushing everyone and I was the biggest Michael Jordan fan ever. I think the combination of all those things led me to love the game so much.
Specific breakthrough moment?
I think I realized I could compete in 3x3 at the Olympics at this year's national championship. We played really well as a team and I played well enough to earn a spot on the World Cup team. I think from that moment on I felt like I could play at this level.
Biggest obstacle that you've overcome?
It has to be overcoming the injuries I've faced. It's been unfortunate, but there's really nothing you can do about it. I've had some bad luck and some bad breaks, but I think I've always kept a positive attitude and kept on chugging along to get back to a game I love to play.
Earliest memory of watching the Olympics?
The Olympics were always a huge deal in our house. My parents actually took us to the Atlanta Olympics when I was 7 years old in 1996. We went to basketball, baseball, gymnastics, volleyball, track and field, and team handball. I remember thinking handball was actually my favorite sport to watch there. It didn't help that our seats were so bad for the basketball and volleyball game/match. I also remember watching from home. My mom is really in to gymnastics in the summer and figure skating in the winter, so we'd always watch with her those sports and honestly all other ones as well.
Which Winter Olympic event would you like to try?
I would love to try and play hockey. I had skates as a kid but never have had a stick and puck in my hands on ice. I've only played on roller blades in the street. I'd like to see just how hard it is to skate and shoot/handle the puck.
What would you be doing if not an athlete?
If I was not an athlete, I think it would be fun to be a pilot. I enjoy traveling and think it would be fun to do.
Do you have any fears?
I am afraid of snakes and don’t love bugs. I've always been really afraid of tornados.
Advice you'd give a young player?
I would tell a young child just starting out in 3x3 to try and be as versatile a player as they can be. This is a game where you need to be able to dribble, pass, shoot, post up and defend. If you can be a versatile player, you can be a really effective 3x3 player.