Patience, faith lead Robinson to "secure" state
BOSTON -- Nate Robinson has spent the majority of the the past two years living in the world of uncertainty, at least in a basketball sense. Times got tough -- tough enough to conquer most -- but Robinson didn't crumble, because he isn't like everyone else.
After all, how many three-time NBA Slam Dunk champions do you know of? Just one, and it's him. How often does a two-sport collegiate star turn to the NBA for a career and experience the success Robinson has since he left the Washington Huskies? Maybe once a decade? And how often do 5-foot-9 guards find a permanent niche in the world's top basketball league? Almost never.
Robinson has been able to do all of those things that few or none have before, and battling through the last two years of his basketball life with a positive mindset is just the latest of his rare accomplishments.
Nate Robinson and Glen Davis, who sparked the Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, will have a full season to compliment each other off the bench this season.
The proud Seattle native is a firm believer in the notion that things happen for a reason, no matter how bad things may get. He preached that during his first interview as a Celtic on Feb. 23, and he continues to do so now.
On Monday, July 23, after nearly two full years of not knowing how or where he'd showcase his basketball skills in the long term, that faith finally paid off in the form of a multi-year contract to remain with the championship-hungry Boston Celtics.
"It makes me feel secure," Robinson said, sounding a bit relieved during his conference call with the media Thursday evening. "My family is straight; everybody is OK, happy. And, again, playing for the Celtics is definitely a blessing. And it's just awesome to be able to play for a team with just great history behind it."
Although Robinson has been a successful scorer in the NBA, along with those three Slam Dunk championships, he hasn't experienced that "secure" feeling in quite some time. He played for a contract in two consecutive seasons, and that would leave anyone wondering where they might wind up.
In 2008-09, the final year of his rookie contract with New York, Robinson averaged 17.2 PPG in 74 appearances, but the Knicks elected not to offer him a long-term contract. He entered free agency with a "restricted" tag attached to his name, and that caused many teams to lose interest in him. Robinson went the entire summer, and part of the fall, without a team to call his own, until he finally accepted the Knicks' one-year qualifying offer on Sept. 25, 2009, leaving the soon-to-begin 2009-10 season as his second consecutive "contract year."
And this one didn't go nearly as well as the first. He began the season bumping heads with Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, and their relationship landed Robinson on the bench for the entire month of December. It also played a large role in the Knicks eventually dealing him to the Celtics on Feb. 18.
His arrival in Boston was coupled with sporadic playing time and contributions, quite similar to his later days in New York, and many were left wondering if he could be a contributor in the playoffs, let alone be in Boston's plans for the future.
But his patience and faith served him well in the playoffs, as he exploded for three separate double-digit point performances -- one in each of the final three rounds of the playoffs -- that included an inspiring 30-point combo off the bench with Glen Davis during Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
"That's just a little glimpse of what we can do [as a bench], me and Baby included, how we can play, you know, when we get the minutes," Robinson said of that memorable performance.
Robinson could be in line for a lot more of those minutes come Opening Night. As currently structured, he is the only reserve guard on Boston's roster with significant NBA experience, meaning he could be heavily relied upon when the upcoming season begins.
He is well aware of the current makeup of Boston's roster, and he's certainly geared up to contribute come the fall. As he noted during his conference call, he has a new outlook on preparation after riding the magic carpet to the Finals with the C's last season.
"It just gave me a lot of confidence, a lot of knowledge of the game," Robinson said of the playoff run. "Just watching Rondo and the guys and how they watch film, and, you know, just everything about basketball and playing at the highest level, it was great for me."
He wasn't just playing at the highest level, either. He was doing it with one of the most professional and Hall of Famer-laden teams the league has seen in recent history. From Day 1, Robinson realized that the way the Boston Celtics go about business is different than anything he'd ever experienced in his career.
"The main thing that stood out to me is just their will to win," he said of his teammates and the Celtics organization. "They expect to win every night."
That winning attitude has clearly rubbed off on Robinson, as he repeatedly spoke Thursday evening about his desire to reel in the Ws. And with those unstable days now behind him, we can all be certain that contract issues won't be dominating his thoughts this season -- winning will.