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Pacers' guard/forward Glenn Robinson III

Pacers' guard/forward Glenn Robinson III did not play in Friday's game in Chicago against the Bulls. The Lake Central grad is recovering from surgery to repair torn medial and lateral ligaments in his left ankle.

Al Hamnik, The Times

CHICAGO — Having to wait is terrible.

Glenn Robinson III must feel like General Custer waiting for reinforcements at Little Bighorn.

The Pacers' guard/forward and defending NBA Slam Dunk Champion underwent successful surgery Oct. 13 to repair two torn medial and lateral ligaments in his left ankle.

It was a freak accident during a Sept. 29 practice scrimmage and the Lake Central grad was originally expected to miss three or four months.

Thankfully, it's a long season.

"This is my first real injury for an extended amount of time," said the third-year pro. "My excitement has built up, especially watching this team get off to a better start than teams I've been on.

"They seem to be having a lot of fun, playing hard and playing the style that I love, too. I'm excited to get back out there."

Robinson made the trip to Chicago for Friday night's Bulls game and was in good spirits. He's only 24, the franchise values his talent and Indy fans love the kid.

But this isn't waiting for a bus, a pizza, or your Uber driver. GR3 must take baby steps, literally.

"Week by week by week," he said. "They evaluate me every two weeks. Today, I went through shoot-around with the team. Shootarounds are pretty light, so I can handle that.

"I was just glad to be out there with the guys."

As to a complete recovery, Robinson said he's at about 60 percent.

"It feels good to finally be able to do something," he said.

Robinson started 27 of 69 games last season, averaging 6 points, 4 rebounds, a career-best 47 percent from the field and 39.2 from beyond the arc.

"Right now, I'm just getting ready for the preparation it takes to get back on the floor," he said. "I'm re-teaching myself how to walk again, how to run again, how to cut again, how to make those plants."

And that takes time for any NBA athlete not named LeBron James.

This is not dry-cleaning we're talking about.

Instead of stretching, studying plays on the blackboard and warming up on the United Center floor before tipoff, GR3 sat in the locker room, in street clothes, talking to a guy who covered him in high school while teammate Thaddeus Young devoured a pregame meal at the next locker.

This routine won't change for some time.

"He's where we expected him to be and is starting to move around a little bit on the floor," coach Nate McMillan said of Robinson's rehab.

"But he's a ways away."

Still three or four months?

"He's a ways away," McMillan said. "I can't put a time frame on when he will return.

"It's unfortunate he didn't have the opportunity to start the season. He'd been working extremely hard this offseason and was having a good camp."

The Pacers are 19-17 with former Indiana University star Victor Oladipo plus Darren Collison, Domantas Sabonis, Thaddeus Young, Myles Turner and Bojan Bogdanovic all averaging double figures.

The bad news is, Oladipo (24.9 ppg.) missed Friday's 119-107 loss with a sore knee, his second straight, and is doubtful today against the Timberwolves.

He's Indiana's offense, the same type of lift GR3 provides with his athleticism, hustle and high basketball IQ while running the floor.

"We've been missing him," McMillan said.

Like an icy road misses salt.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com.

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