Bonnie Hummel, a Blue Earth native, never really enjoyed watching the National Basketball Association (NBA), but that all changed once her grandson, Robbie Hummel, was selected with the 58th overall pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2012 NBA Draft on June 28.
Bonnie Hummel's husband, John, says they purchased the NBA League Pass subscription so they could watch their grandson play.
"John and I were so upset when we found out we couldn't watch the games on television," Bonnie Hummel says. "Our son Glenn (Robbie's father) will inform us if he has a good chance of playing." Bonnie Hummel jokes and says Robbie Hummel inherited her husband's basketball talent.
"John played basketball at Blue Earth High School and also played at the University of Rochester in New York," Bonnie Hummel says.
The two met at BEHS and were both in the class of 1949. They even returned to Blue Earth in the summers off from college and worked in the Green Giant payroll office.
When Robbie Hummel was playing basketball at Purdue University, his grandparents went to practically every home game.
"We are both thrilled he got drafted," John Hummel says. "Compared to other NBA players, he seemed too thin. But, he could shoot the ball and he really worked hard."
Bonnie and John Hummel still have a close connection to Blue Earth.
"We drove through Blue Earth on our way to Brookings, S.D., a couple of weeks ago," Bonnie Hummel says. "We have lived in Illinois for over 50 years, but Blue Earth will always hold a special place in our heart."
John Hummel added he is not a fan of the three new roundabouts in Blue Earth.
"I can follow stop signs and stop lights perfectly fine," he says. "I just don't get it."
The couple says the last time they saw their grandson was last Thanksgiving.
"It was fantastic because we got to go to a Timberwolves game the night before Thanksgiving dinner," Bonnie Hummel explains. "We met up with Robbie after the game on the court. It was a fun experience."
Robbie Hummel has been coming to Minnesota with his family ever since he can remember. His great-grandfather, who built a cabin on Pelican Lake near Brainerd, is also from Blue Earth, he says.
"I am no stranger to Minnesota," Hummel says. "I have family here and I even tore my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) versus the Minnesota Gophers in college. It is a crazy coincidence that I am here now."
According to Hummel, he visited Blue Earth when he was young for his great-grandfather Earl Hummel's funeral.
Earl Hummel worked at First National Bank in Blue Earth, according to Robbie Hummel.
"My cousins attend Augsburg College in Minneapolis and I also have a great uncle and aunt who live in Brooklyn Center." he says.
According to Glenn Hummel, his son is a hard worker and a normal kid.
"Robbie loves to fish and golf," he says. "We always have a family reunion and we all enjoy getting together to fish in the Brainerd area."
Glenn Hummel and his wife Linda have traveled to watch their son play multiple times.
"We went to about 10 home games this last year," Glenn Hummel says. "In addition, my wife and I also went to Los Angeles to watch the Lakers and Clippers play the Timberwolves. It was also great to see Robbie play against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat in Florida."
Glenn Hummel was not surprised his son made the NBA.
"He had such a great collegiate career at Purdue," he says. "It was heartbreaking to see him go through his knee injuries. But, he overcame the obstacles and made his dream come true."
Robbie Hummel had a standout career with Purdue University in the Big Ten. Hummel ranked ninth in Purdue's program history in points (1,772), fourth in rebounds (862), three-point field goals (216) and games started (120).
He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team as a freshman, junior and senior, was twice an Associated Press All-America Second Team selection and was once named the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year.
However, his collegiate basketball career was halted after experiencing two ACL tears in his right knee. He tore his ACL for the first time in February 2010 against the Gophers at Williams Arena before re-tearing it in a practice the following season. Hummel missed the entire 2010-11 season, then returned in 2011-12 for his senior year.
He finished his senior season by scoring 16.4 points per game, shot 41.7 percent from the floor and was a go-to player for the Boilermakers throughout his career.
After being drafted, Robbie Hummel joined the Timberwolves for the 2012 NBA Summer League.
He even offered to tutor point guard Ricky Rubio, who tore the ACL in his left knee in March 2012, on how to recover from the injury.
"We talked about it and compared stories a bit," Robbie Hummel explains. "I told him if he put the time in, he will recover and it is possible. It's never the same, but all you can do is get back on the horse."
On August 8, 2012, Hummel signed a one-year deal with a team in Spain.
In September 2012, he injured his right meniscus and was sidelined for two months.
He re-joined the Minnesota Timberwolves for the 2013 NBA Summer League. On September 26, 2013, he officially signed with the Timberwolves.
"It has always been my dream to play in the NBA," Hummel explains. "I got an opportunity this past year because some guys unfortunately went down with injuries. Playing against guys I grew up watching on television is unreal. I am very fortunate for this opportunity."