Dennis Robertson is NBA star Kawhi Leonard’s uncle and chief advisor. In July 2018, Leonard was traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors. Following his championship-winning season in Canada, it remains a mystery as to where the 28-year-old will be playing in 2019-20.
On June 30, 2019, the Los Angeles Times’ Brad Turner reported that Leonard and his uncle had met with Magic Johnson regards a move to the Lakers. Turner said it was Leonard’s camp that initiated that meeting. The Times later reported that since Johnson resigned his position as president of basketball operations on April 9, he is not an official representative of the team and therefore allowed to meet with Leonard prior to free agency opened. Despite this, the Times says that Leonard highly values Johnson’s opinion.
Robertson is brother to Leonard’s mother, Kim Robertson. In January 2008, Mark Leonard, Kawhi’s father, was shot-and-killed at the car wash he owned in Compton, Los Angeles. The killers are still at large.
After his father’s death, Robertson told the San Antonio Express News that he stepped up. Robertson said, “Our family has always been close. It didn’t change the way I looked at things. I was happy to be there so my sister wouldn’t have to go through that process.” Leonard is quoted in the same feature as saying, “With my dad passing away, there aren’t too many men in the family and he’s a great guy to just talk to… He’s just been through life already; good guy to talk to.”
Late in the 2017/18 season, Leonard ignored pleas from his Spurs teammates to rejoin the team prior to their playoff game with the Golden State Warriors. In total, Leonard played nine games during the 2017/18 season having suffered multiple injury problems. At the beginning of 2018, Robertson denied rumors that there was a rift between the Spurs and Leonard. Robertson described the two sides as being in “Lockstep.” Robertson works closely with Leonard’s other advisor, agent Mitch Frankel.
Here’s what you need to know about Kawhi Leonard’s uncle and chief advisor:
1. ESPN Reported in 2018 that the Spurs Felt Leonard’s Advisors Had an ‘Ulterior Motive’ & that Robertson Was ‘Difficult’
ESPN published a feature in May 2018 about the apparent problems between Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs. Citing sources, the network quoted persons familiar with the situation saying that the Spurs felt that Leonard’s advisors, notably Dennis Robertson, had an “ulterior motive” and were trying to earn Leonard a trade to Philadelphia, New York or Los Angeles. In the midst of Leonard’s 2018 injury problems, the Spurs said that Robertson had been pressing for Leonard to get an outside opinion on his health.
The article goes on to describe Robertson as “difficult” and alleges, citing sources, that Leonard’s uncle was “trying to parlay his nephew’s success into his own marketing company.” Robertson is not a certified agent and was trying to set up a company similar to LeBron James’ company, LRMR, according to ESPN. A source is then quoted as saying that Leonard “really trusts” Robertson. ESPN reported in March 2018 that Robertson had walked away from a $22 million extension offer from the Spurs because he felt it was not good enough for Leonard. Back in 2014, Robertson spoke glowingly about the Spurs telling ABC News, “I’m going to tell you, this is the perfect spot for him. If he wasn’t in San Antonio, I don’t know that he would be Kawhi Leonard right now.”
2. Robertson Is the President of the Elite Athlete Division at Protocol International
According to his LinkedIn page, Robertson is the president of the elite athlete division at Protocol International, in the New York City-area. Robertson describes himself on the page as being an “award-winning Banking Executive with over 30 years of experience in corporate branding, training and development, campaign marketing and promotion, and staff recruiting.” During his career in finance, Robertson worked for American Express, Carver Federal Savings and JP Morgan Chase.
Robertson is also described as having “personable leadership skills, and proven track record of service excellence.” In his role with Protocol International, Robertson says “his mission and purpose is to develop high-performance teams and individuals.” He has been with the South Orange, New Jersey, based company since 2014. Robertson is a graduate of Dorsey High School, class of 1980, and the College of Idaho’s Albertson Business School, class of 1987, where he studied business administration. Robertson told the Express News in 2014 that he encouraged Leonard to transport his Chevy Malibu from California to Texas rather than buy a new car, as a cost-saving exercise.
ESPN’s March 2018 feature on Leonard says that Robertson makes “seven figures a year” from a real estate investment on Madison Avenue in Harlem. The same article calls Robertson a “contractor” for Impact Sports. Impact is a sports agency that is based in Boca Raton, Florida, and was founded by billionaire real estate developers Jeff and Joseph Sutton, reports Forbes.
3. Robertson Is ‘Close’ With Kyrie Irving’s Dad & Has Heard ‘Horror Stories’ About Playing With LeBron
Speaking on Fox Sports’ First Things First earlier in June 2018, Chris Broussard said that Leonard should avoid playing in Los Angeles and with LeBron James. Broussard said, “I get wanting to be in LA, wanting to be at home, you’re from here. But man, I think Boston and Philly are both better options. I know his uncle who is advising him, Dennis Robertson, is close with Kyrie’s dad. I have no idea how Kawhi feels about playing with LeBron but I know that his uncle has head whatever horror stories Kyrie had that led him to want out of Cleveland, Dennis Robertson has heard.”
Broussard continued, “I don’t know how that affects Kawhi or even Dennis, whether he would want him to play with LeBron, but I know he has heard stories. If Kawhi and Kyrie tight and I don’t know that they are not, why in the world couldn’t you stay in Boston and build something there?”
4. Stephen A. Smith Believes that Robertson Is the Source of the Problems Between Leonard & the Spurs
In an episode of ESPN’s First Take in February 2018, Stephen A. Smith said that he believed that Dennis Robertson was the source of the problems between Leonard and the Spurs. Smith said, “Let me say this: I’ve been told directly that the uncle has been the problem. So I’m not deducing it to the uncle. I have been told directly that the uncle has been a problem for the organization, even though he has categorically denied that.”
5. Robertson Says His Favorite Story About His Nephew Involved a Trip to White Castle
Roberts told My San Antonio about his favorite Kawhi Leonard story, saying it involved a trip to White Castle in New Jersey where Leonard ordered “four or five cheeseburgers.” When the pair went to pay, Leonard took out single dollar bills rather than use a $20. Robertson said, “Man, if you don’t give me the $20 to pay for these burgers… you gotta be kidding me.” On another trip to Five Guys, a different burger restaurant, in New York City, Leonard complained that the burgers, at $4 a piece, were too pricey compared to San Antonio.