Nate Robinson isn’t sure why teams overlook him, but he’s sure he likes Brian Shaw

13 Comments

When Nate Robinson catches fire, there is no better show in the NBA. What playoff quarter was more entertaining than his 23-point fourth quarter in the first round of the playoffs against Brooklyn in Game 4, when Robinson single handedly forced overtime? He’s the shortest player in the NBA, a fan favorite everywhere and he plays with a chip on his shoulder fans love to see.

It’s why Robinson was a natural fit for the new “Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: Uncle Drew Chapter 3” commercial — Robinson’s personality and game are a perfect match in that setting.

But Chicago didn’t bring him back after that playoff run. Like Golden State before them. Or Oklahoma City before that. Boston traded him before that, as did the Knicks eventually.

For all the love fans have for Robinson, organizations do not. Coaches crave consistency and see Robinson as boom or bust night to night. Robinson told ProBasketballTalk he’s not sure why teams marginalize what he can do.

“I don’t know. I’ve been hearing rumors about different things but I don’t know,” Robinson told ProBasketballTalk. “I know all I know how to do is be Nate Robinson, I don’t know how to be anybody else…

“You go from team to team and some coaches may like you and some coaches may not like you for whatever reason. But for me I just use everything for motivation. A coach saying one thing about me and not wanting to play me when I come to work every day, I take my job serious, I have fun at what I do but I’m never late, and you can always count on me. I don’t miss games, I don’t miss practices….

“I just feel I get looked over a lot. People pass judgment. That’s just part of life. I just learned to grow with it, I don’t use it as an excuse.”

You can decide for yourself which former coach he is talking about.

But you can see the coach’s side as well Robinson is as likely to come in with the second unit and shoot a team out of a lead as extend it — the fearlessness that makes him so great when he’s on seems to make him oblivious to the nights he is cold. He knows the next shot is going in, so he is going to take it. Fans love that. He’s very popular as a teammate.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league on October, 30th. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts October 30th at 7pm ET. Here’s the link.

But it’s not for every coach — what Robinson wants in a coach is someone who is straight up with him. He thinks he’s got that with Brian Shaw, the well-traveled assistant now in the big chair in Denver.

“Coach Shaw, he loves hard workers so I know he’s going to love me. I know it,” Robinson said. “I’m not asking him for no minutes, I want to earn every bit that I get. I’m going to be the kind of player I am and push this team where it needs to be….

“It seems like he’s been around coaching for a long time. He played on great teams with great players, he was a great player as well. He does things the right way and he’s honest. That’s one thing I love about him. I’ve been around other coaches who have been dishonest to me over the years, said things than done the total opposite. But he gave me my chance.”

Robinson is getting a chance on a team a lot of prognosticators don’t think has much of one (myself included, to be up front). With a coaching change that brings a new system, with Andre Iguodala gone and Danilo Gallinari out until likely December, people see a big step back for a team that won 57 games last season.

Of course, Robinson is brimming with confidence — he likes this team. We should expect nothing less.

“You’ll see by the way we play,” Robinson said. “That’s how we’re going to convince people and other teams, by what we’re doing this season. And you never know, the record might be worse than last year, it might be better than last year. Nobody knows. Nobody knows the future. No matter what our record is, if we’re the last team standing and we’re holding the trophy, and we had this conversation, I’m going to say ‘I told you so.’”

We’ll see. The one thing I know for sure is with Robinson there and getting minutes, Denver is going to put on a show. This is going to be a fun team to watch.

Pacers erase 17-point deficit to take 2-1 lead over Cavs

Getty Images
1 Comment

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit for a 92-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 win.

The incredible second-half charge came exactly one year after Indiana blew a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoff collapse against the Cavs.

This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs – on a night LeBron Jones joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoff history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Cleveland from losing its first game this season after leading following the third quarter.

The biggest reason for the collapse: Bogdanovic.

After charging back with striking distance, he completed a four-point play to finally give the Pacers an 81-77 lead with 6:10 left. Bogdanovic followed that with another to make it as seven-point game.

Then James answered with the next seven to tie it.

Bogdanovic came right back with a layup and another 3 before Thaddeus Young scored to give the Pacers a 91-84 cushion with 53 seconds left.

James knocked down a 3 to cut the deficit to four, and the Cavs got another 3 from Kevin Love with 7 seconds left to make it 91-90.

Darren Collison made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left, giving Cleveland one more chance. But J.R. Smith‘s long desperation heave came up short..

Shaq attacks verse in new TV series "Poetry in America"

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal called himself “The Big Baryshnikov” and “The Big Socrates” in his days in the NBA. Now he can add “The Big Shakespeare.”

The basketball Hall-of-Famer, TNT TV analyst, commercial pitchman and onetime rapper is putting poetry on his lengthy resume as part of a new public television series.

He brings his best bard to a dramatic reading of a poem in his episode of the 12-part “Poetry in America ,” then discusses it with Elisa New, a Harvard English professor who hosts the show.

“I’ve always been into poetry,” O’Neal said in an interview with The Associated Press in a sunlit conference room overlooking the Los Angeles skyline. “I’ve been writing rhymes all my life.”

“Poetry in America,” distributed by American Public Television and presented by WGBH in Boston, is airing at various times on local public TV stations. Some episodes, including Shaq’s, are already available to stream.

On the show the 46-year-old former All-Star from the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat recites “Fast Break,” a poem by Edward Hirsch from his 1986 book “Wild Gratitude.” It describes some very imperfect players who manage to put together a perfect basketball play.

“A hook shot kisses the rim and hangs there, helplessly, but doesn’t drop,” the poem begins, “and for once our gangly starting center boxes out his man.”

O’Neal, whose 350-pound bulk would never be called “gangly,” still related to the center in the verse, but said he initially missed the poem’s point.

“The first mistake I made was thinking it was about basketball,” he said. “I read it real quick I said `fast break, shovel passes, sure, this is what I do.”‘

He said New, who sat next to O’Neal in the interview and like almost everyone is utterly dwarfed by him, gave him whole new insights that led to a fast friendship.

“When she broke it down intelligently for me, I was very astounded and very amazed,”

The poem is written for a close friend and playing partner of Hirsch’s who had just died. That’s easy to miss if you skip past the dedication at the top, as most readers do.

“It’s fun that only later as you’re reading, you look back at that dedication,” New said. “One line can change everything.”

Suddenly it becomes an examination of transcendent moments and human connections.

“It’s about friendship, it’s about caring, it’s about emotions,” O’Neal said. “I had missed that.”

His latest learning experience took O’Neal’s thoughts back to high school, where he had a 69 percent in English after blowing a test during the basketball playoffs, and needed a 70 to stay eligible for sports.

The teacher allowed him a retest, and suggested a tutor.

“This guy, his name was McDougal, he was a geek, he saved my academic life,” O’Neal said. “Everybody bullied him in school, except me.”

O’Neal said he took the work and “broke it down, made it seem so simple.”

“I retook the test, got an 80, and we won the state championship,” O’Neal said.

“Now,” he said, “I always tell kids I’m a geek.”

The professor had another name for him. “He’s a learner!”

O’Neal partly looked the poet during the interview in a polo shirt and jeans, having traded his basketball sneakers for a pair of slip-on Toms shoes, size 22.

When he wanted them, a company executive told him “it wouldn’t be worth it to make them in my size unless I bought 500 of them,” O’Neal said. “I told him to give me 2,000.”

 

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

AP Photo/Brandon Dill
1 Comment

David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

Via Twitter
13 Comments

I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.