Nate Robinson has been having a spectacular season. Averaging 13 points per game, four assists per game and two rebounds per game, it’s fair to say Robinson, the Seattle native picked 21st in the 2005 NBA draft is having his best season in his career during his tenure with the Chicago Bulls. Such was the case during the triple over-time game six victory against the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, when Robinson, who finished the game with a staggering 34 points, scored 24 of those points in the fourth quarter, saving the Bulls. That game he shot 60% from the field on 14-of-32 shot attempts.
However Robinson’s desire to shine and showcase his abilities didn’t come easy.
When Robinson attended Rainier Beach high school in his hometown of Seattle, Robinson excelled basketball, football and track becoming a three-sport star. His fellow high school classmates loved him for showcasing his spectacular skills and talents, and he didn’t let them down as Robinson, alongside Boston Celtics’ Terrence Williams, led his basketball team to a record 28 wins, one loss, winning the AAA state championships as a senior.
When he attended Washington University, he didn’t stop to showcase his athleticism as Robinson, led the Huskies to two straight NCAA tournaments in basketball, one of which included a sweet sixteen appearance.
He even strived in football during his time at the university, as a he was an undersized defensive back on the team. Robinson blew away critics in high school and college and was loved by his fellow alumnus for his hard work and dedication.
Nonetheless while Robinson strived in track and football, he’s true passion was in basketball. However striving to become a professional in basketball proved to become difficult.
Basketball is a game unlike another. In renowned sports such as soccer, football, baseball or any other, height doesn’t matter as much. It’ll be nice to be genetically gifted and it’ll probably do you some favors in the long run but it’s not a necessity as it is in basketball.
From the beginning of time when Canadian Dr. James Naismith invented the sport, basketball has been beneficial and designed to be easier for those who are naturally gifted with height. For the longest time it’s been said that even if you have tremendous skill and superior athletic abilities, if you’re not 6’3” or higher you’ll be frowned upon and considered undersized which could’ve potentially hurt your draft value. Nate Robinson among other super star sensations such as Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings, who is listed at the same height as Robinson at 5’9” and Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers, who is listed at 6’0” alongside J.J. Barea of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who is listed as the same height as Paul, have all debunked the myth that you need to be blessed with height in order to achieve success in the NBA. As Robinson says during the win against the Miami Heat,
“God blessed me with a lot of heart and no height, and I’ll take that any day”
Needless to say, throughout his eight-year career in the NBA, Robinson struggled to find a role where he could be productive and strive. Playing for the New York Knicks from 2005-10, then with the Boston Celtics from 2010-11 and then tossed around the league landing spots on the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors, Robinson was hidden in the bench, playing limited minutes. Head coach of the Thunder, Scott Brooks, rarely played Robinson during the playoffs. Robinson however looked at each opportunity from a positive perspective, doing all he can to help a team gain the win.
Robinson did have moments throughout his career when he shined. Such was when he excelled during the 2008 and 2009 NBA All-Star Weekend exhibition, when Robinson won the Sprite Slam Dunk competition two years in a row. He would end his dunking with three championships (2006, 2009 and 2010).
Still he was more of an entertainer and never showed how serious he was about having a prominent role in the league. That all changed however during the summer of 2012.
When the Chicago Bulls signed Robinson during the previous off-season as a free agent, nobody expected him to play so many minutes. They all expected Robinson to play limited minutes off the bench, as always, doing whatever he can to help his team.
With an injured Derrick Rose, who tore his ACL during game one of last season’s playoff run against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Bulls front office went ahead and drafted Marquis Teague, a point guard out of Kentucky, in the NBA draft and signed free agent point guard Kirk Hinrich, who was previously drafted by the Bulls.
This season however, the Bulls suffered tremendous injuries. Luol Deng was inactive during game 1 as he was stuck at Rush University Medical Center where he suffered viral meningitis and spinal tap complications, Taj Gibson was sick with the flu and Joakim Noah played through plantar fasciitis. Alongside them on the inactive list was Kirk Hinrich who suffered a bruised left calf injury among others throughout the entire season. Hinrich was supposed to be the temporary starting point guard covering for a rehabilitating Derrick Rose, however with two point guards injured, Bulls head coach and mastermind, Tom Thibodeau, was left with resorting to starting Nate Robinson as an act of desperation. It was a blessing in disguise for Robinson as he finally had his moment to flourish. He defiantly fulfilled his duties thus far throughout the playoffs as he’s been averaging 18 points per game throughout the playoffs.
One prime example where Robinson excelled was during firs game of the second round series in this year’s NBA playoff, when Robinson exploded for 27 points, capturing the win for the Chicago Bulls. Even when 6’8” and 250 pound Lebron James, fell on him, Robinson just got back up and continued to play. He did however have to get 10 stitches on his upper lip after words.
Still, because of his stellar performance, confidence, fearlessness, ambition and dedication towards the game, Robinson has grown to become a crowd favourite among not just only Bulls fans, but NBA fans around the world. Fans are able to relate to him, as Robinson, who may be undersized in the NBA, is an average, normal height among fans. Here is this guy who comes up with no excuses and just goes out there and plays basketball with emotion and all his heart. Fans want more of him, more than any coach in the league would.
This upcoming off-season Robinson would become an unrestricted free agent again. While Bulls fans may want Robinson to return to the team next year, it’s not sure whether Bulls executives John Paxson and Gar Forman would offer him another contract. If they don’t he’ll be available to the large NBA market again, where he can sign with another team. He will receive another payday in the NBA, whether it’s with the Bulls or not. Needless to say, Robinson is starting to become a true professional in the league. Teams can use his energy, skills and personality on the bench and possibly off it. The 5’9” three-sport super star from Seattle, who is always adored by fans throughout his entire life, is here to stay in the NBA and has a bright future ahead of him. Here’s to Robinson having a fanatic playoff run with the Chicago Bulls and even better future in the NBA.