Nate Robinson: “If I can be the first player to play for every team in the league, I want to do it.”
— Geoff Lepper (@geofflepper) January 16, 2014
Nate Robinson was joking, but this is part of the reason why we dig and respect him so much.
He dealt with the catcalls following his Slam Dunk titles, needing attempt after attempt to pull off the title-winning throwdowns, while also properly working his way through an extended benching at the hands of former New York Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. Dealt to Boston late in the 2009-10 season, Robinson only played token minutes during the team’s run to Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. He received even less burn in Oklahoma City upon being dealt to that squad during the 2011 trade deadline, and had to go to a tanking Golden State Warriors team in 2011-12 to rehabilitate his image.
That image was further refurnished in 2012-13 with a Chicago Bulls team that badly needed Nate’s scoring services. Robinson’s work during that season, and especially the legendary Game 4 triple overtime win during the team’s first round series against Brooklyn, when Nate scored 34 points – with 24 desperate digits in the fourth quarter alone.
Left to run to Denver during the offseason in a move most Bulls fans still rue, Nate has continued his sparkplug ways, netting over 10 points per game in under 20 minutes a contest, working exclusively off the bench.
And, if you’ve been keeping count, you’d recognize six teams in that list. Six teams in less than four years, even. There are 24 NBA left to go, but six is still a pretty healthy number – that also means six NBA teams wanted the services of a guy that barely tops out at 5-9.
Nate was at his season-best on Wednesday, tying his season high with 24 points in Denver’s inspired road win over the Golden State Warriors. Inspired because Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw was coaching his first game in his hometown of Oakland. Inspired because the Warriors are a championship contender, playing at home, perked up at the news that they were involved in a trade that could help those championship hopes.
And inspired because of what Nate was working through in the hours leading up to the game. From Christopher Dempsey at the Denver Post:
Robinson’s 14 fourth quarter points were a huge reason the Nuggets nabbed one of their most important victories of the season – an old-fashioned 123-116 shootout over Golden State at Oracle Arena. But there was something bigger at work for Robinson, whose aunt died in her sleep the day before.
“I told the guys I really wanted to win this game in-particular,” Robinson said. “It was big for me to come out and play for her and my family. My dad, it was tough on him losing his sister. He already lost his brother already. So it was just real tough coming out here at this time, dealing with a death in the family, just trying to keep everybody’s spirits up. Tonight was a good win for her.”
Robinson gestured to the sky in tribute to her after made buckets, and there were a lot of them. He was 6-of-8 in the fourth quarter. He was 2-for-3 from 3-point range in the quarter and the Nuggets needed all of his production to stave off the hard-charging Warriors.
That’s our Nate. Strong strong, my man.
And maybe stay in Denver for a while. The uniform looks good on you.
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