Craig Robinson talks being the ‘coach next door’ and brother of the first lady

Robinson said he’s excited to see what the next four years will bring for the first couple in the next four years. He has his hands full with his coaching duties, where he says he has his hands full.

“I’m responsible for 15 or 16 young men, and I’m always putting my time towards that,” he said.

Robinson calls his book a “love letter” to his parents, which gives people ” a feel for how Michelle and I were raised.” But his public profile will largely stop there. “If they ever need my help, I’m happy to help,” he said of his brother-in-law and sister, “but if not, I’m happy to just stand on the background and be supportive.”

In the meantime, Robinson took a moment to reflect on the things that have most stood out for him in his family’s singular journey over the last four years.

“The strangest thing was working on this terrific campaign and being so wrapped in it and then you win, and you go to the inauguration and you’re a part of this whole thing, and the next thing you know your sister and brother-in-law are walking in to the White House.  I mean, that doesn’t happen to two kids from the south side of Chicago.”

“I had never been to the White House before until my sister moved in,” he said.

Among the best things: the White House itself. “You know, this place is like a museum and each time I go I see something I didn’t see before. You see a copy of the Gettysburg Address when you stay in the Lincoln Bedroom and you look at the photos of all the past presidents. You meet the people, the staff, who are here for all the different presidents’ terms.”

There have also been moments that were not so nice — the sometimes cruel things said about the president and First Lady, on cable television, and on the Internet, and even attacks on his nieces.

Robinson said his family has known since his days as a basketball player and coach not to take it personally when people said bad things about one of their own.

“I used to tell them, listen: I know what I’m doing. I’m doing what’s best for these kids that I’m coaching. I love my job. I got this. Don’t worry about what people say,” he said. But once the Obamas got into office in 2008, “I had to use my own advice and kind of listen to Michelle and Barack telling me they know what they’re doing. They don’t listen to what these folks are saying. They’re trying to do what’s best for the most people and they don’t listen to what these folks are saying. If you just go by that, you can handle some of these negative types of hyperbolic stuff.”

“Also, my mom did a good job raising us with a lot of self-esteem, and to know you know when you’re doing the right thing. It really doesn’t matter what other people would say.”

One thing people often say — or rather ask — that Robinson is less forthcoming on is the question of whether his basketball skills outweigh those of his powerful brother-in-law.

“Well, you know, we’ve never played one-on-one because the first thing is, you know I played professionally and Barack is pretty much pick-up player,” Robinson said. “And he’s always wise enough to put me on his team.”

And is that a subtle, brotherly way of saying he’d win?

“Bingo,” Robinson said, laughing, and proving that brotherly trash talking on the court can even survive the Oval Office.

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport.