There were several guys who broke the NBA norm of “the taller, the better.” Does a player’s height determine how good that player is or will be at the professional level? Nate Robinson, who was only five foot nine, proved the critics otherwise. He is a prime example of “Heart over Height” with how great of a player he was. Spud Webb and Muggsy Bogues set the stage for players like Nate Robinson, giving the little guards a better chance to make it in the NBA.
Nate Robinson attended Rainier Beach High School in Seattle, Washington. He transferred to a school in California for one year but ended up going back to Rainier for his senior year in 2001. This was the same high school that sixth man of the year, Jamal Crawford, attended just a few years before Nate. He played basketball, football and ran track. Nate’s senior year he led his basketball squad to 28 wins and 2 losses, which resulted in a state championship alongside Terrence Williams. He averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals and won the AAA state player of the year. In September of 2010, Rainier High School retired his jersey and joined Jamal Crawford as his jersey was retired as well.
Nate earned a scholarship to play football at Washington. He played for that year because of his scholarship, but Basketball was still heavy on his mind. He began to focus mainly on basketball after the football season was over and joined the team. His freshman year, which was 2002-2003, he was named national freshman team and All PAC 10 freshman team honors. He averaged 13 points per game this year. Nates sophomore year his averages remained consistent and he received All PAC 10 first team honors. Going into his junior year, he led Washington to the Sweet Sixteen during the March Madness tournament. His senior year he declared for the 2005 NBA draft.
In the 2005 NBA draft, Robinson was picked 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns, but was traded to the New York Knick’s. He started in 26 out of 72 games this season. Nate averaged 9.3 points and 2 assists.
His most memorable rookie moment was defeating Andre Iguodala in the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest. Robinson brought out 1986 Slam Dunk champion Spud Webb and jumped over him, which won him the trophy in overtime. Towards the end of the season, Nate was involved in a physical altercation and was placed on the inactive list for 10 games.
New York Knicks
His sophomore season, he decided to reclaim his title as Slam Dunk champ and entered the dunk contest again. He came up short and finished in second place. In the 2007-2008 season he averaged 12.7 points per game and scored a career high of 45 points. In the 2008-2009 season, he won the Sprite Slam Dunk contest a second time. He jumped over 7 foot Dwight Howard and completed the dunk for the trophy, once again. This was also his best season so far with the Knicks. He averaged 17.2 points per game and 4.1 assists. Nate resigned with the Knicks after the season for a one year deal. 2009-2010 was his last season with the Knicks. Nate and Mike D’Antoni bumped heads and he was benched for 14 games. He participated in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest for a fourth time and won becoming the first 3 time champ.
In the 2010-2011 season, the Knicks traded him to the Celtics. Nate stepped in and helped the Celtics reach the NBA finals. They ended up losing in 7 games, and Nate was traded to OKC. The Thunder ended up waiving him prior to the start of the lockout season in December.
Golden State Warriors
On January 4th 2012, the Warriors signed Robinson and he played in 51 games. He averaged 11.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2 rebounds.
The 2012-2013 season Nate signed another one year deal with the Chicago Bulls. He started in 23 games behind Kirk Hinrich, while Derrick Rose was injured. He averaged 17 points, 6.8 assists, and 2.5 steals in a four game span. The Bulls earned the 5th seed in the east. Nate joined Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Derrick Rose as the only Bulls to score at least 25 points and 9 assists in a playoff game. He was the difference maker and breakout star of the playoffs that year.
Traded to the Nuggets in 2013, Nate signed a multi- year deal with Denver. He only played one season before exploring his player option in his contract. He was traded back to Boston but just a few days later the Celtics waived him before he stepped foot on the court.
Los Angeles Clippers
He joined the Clippers on a 10-day contract but due to an injury he was let go.
New Orleans Pelicans
As a few months passed, he signed his next deal on October 16th, 2015, with the Pelicans. This was supposed to be a one year deal, but they waived him after his first 2 games.
After being tossed around the NBA for so long, Nate then looked into other playing options. He signed to play overseas in the Israeli Basketball Premier League. He scored a career high 46 points and averaged 16.2 points per game.
Delaware 87ers (G-League)
In February of 2017, the Delaware 87’ers acquired Robinson for the G-League. He played for a couple of months.
Later on in April, he signed with Guaros de Lara in Venezuela. They won the LPB championship and Robinson was named MVP.
Next season, he signed to play in the Lebanese Basketball League but was waived due to an injury sustained in the BIG3 league from the summer.
When was his Prime?
Now that we’ve taken a look, when was point guard Nate Robinson in his prime? He played four seasons with the Knicks and this was the longest he ever stayed put on one team. In the 2007-2008 season, he averaged 12.7 points per game but in the 2008-2009 season with the Knicks he averaged 17.2 points per game, which was his best season yet. In his final season with the Knicks he averaged 13.2 points per game, which was similar to his season with the Bulls in 2012-2013. It’s hard to say when Nate was in his prime because he bounced around from six teams in 11 seasons. Plus it’s hard to get into the flow when you have new teammates every year.
Nate has also been competing in the BIG3 playing for the Tri-State. In his first season, he averaged 10.9 points and in his second season in 2019 he averaged 8.7 points. Other than basketball, Nate wrote a book called “Heart Over Height” in 2014 and he also opened a Chicken and Waffles Restaurant in Rainier Beach, Seattle. In June of 2016, he brought back his football dreams and tried out for the Seattle Seahawks but that was not fulfilled. Nate has plenty of heart, but the NBA looked too much into his height unfortunately. He never gave up on his passion and continued to play wherever he was accepted.