Nate Robinson’s NBA career has been a bit of an enigma. After leaving college a year early and spending four-and-a-half seasons with the New York Knicks, the diminutive guard failed to latch on to any other teams for more than one season, thus settling in to the life of an NBA journeyman. Robinson has practically gained folk hero status at this point, thanks to his insane leaping ability and penchant for cringe-worthy “no, no, no, no…YES!” jump shots.
After a string of one-year contracts, Robinson finally latched on to the Denver Nuggets on a two-year deal in 2013, but his season was cut short thanks to an ACL injury. Ironically, it was an ACL injury to a star point guard that helped land Robinson a roster spot a year earlier in Chicago. He joined the Bulls in 2012 to shore up a back court that would be without Derrick Rose for the entire 2012-13 season. The Bulls managed to make the playoffs, and that’s where Robinson etched his name in NBA journeyman lore.
Thanks to a tremendous shooting performance, Robinson helped lead the Bulls to a stunning series win over the Nets, and a gutsy Game 1 win against the Miami in the second round, before they were dispatched in five games by the defending champions. Still, Robinson’s performance in the Brooklyn series — especially his 34-point performance in Game 3 which put the Bulls up 3-1 in the series — was not forgotten by Bulls fans.
Monday night’s Nuggets-Bulls preseason game marked Robinson’s first appearance at the United Center since he was in a Bulls uniform. He entered the game to a loud ovation, and it only took one possession for the fans to start cheering for him all over again. And it may have been the most Nate Robinson-y shot in the history of Nate Robinson: a 40-foot desperation heave to beat the shot clock. Nothing but net.
The reaction from the crowd was a mix of cheers and tepid applause, but the overall mood — driven home by play-by-play man Neil Funk — seemed to be “okay, Nate, we love you, but that’s enough”. Basically, his career in a nutshell.