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.
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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.