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Nate Robinson: Boorish Clown or Righteously Angry?

 

You decide (via the NY Daily News, who put the story of my beloved Sandra Bullock’s cheating husband on the front page this morning. I told you, Sandra! If it weren’t for the restraining order, you’d realize that what we both has been right in front of us all along!):

Nate Robinson rose from his seat on the Celtics bench, looked at Mike D’Antoni and began clapping.

Lil’ Him wasn’t honoring his former coach Wednesday night as much as he was taunting him. With Boston building a 27-point third-quarter lead over the Knicks, Robinson twice made it a point to show that he was enjoying D’Antoni’s misery.

First of all, I hate the nickname Lil’ Him or L’il Him or, really, Lil’ anything. Second, I’m not totally anti-Nate here. In general, it drives me crazy when fringe NBA players carry on about meaningless accomplishments, and scoring 8 points in a blowout win against a horrible team fits the definition of “meaningless.”

But Mike D’Antoni, a fantastic coach and a nice guy, has for two years now yanked players in and out of his rotation on what sometimes seems to be his personal whim. He banished Stephon Marbury only to ask him to play—and perhaps even start—when injuries decimated New York’s back court in November 2008. Marbury said no. He benched Nate Robinson for 14 games, then gave him playing time again, then talked about starting him and then benched him again. Now he’s on the Celtics. Chris Duhon went from starting and playing 30 minutes a game to being out of the rotation to being back in the rotation whenever D’Antoni tires of watching Sergio Rodriguez play “defense.”

This is not all on D’Antoni. Marbury’s a loon and had become a $20 million no-defense distraction. Robinson acted the buffoon, drew attention to himself at the expense of the team and played recklessly at times. Duhon, I’m sorry to say, stinks.

Still: It’s not hard to understand why Robinson would hold a grudge against D’Antoni.

Was this really the appropriate circumstance in which to express that grudge?

  • Jay

    yes it was.

  • hemlock09

    classless is classless. what he ends up doing here is proving his critics right. ive never watched nate robinson more than to know he’s a ridiculously athletic scoring guard who’s fun to watch. but ive heard a lot. this is nate justifying the haters. too bad for him.

  • DRJ1

    He’s a kid enjoying his new surroundings – a serious team for a change. A little glee at the expense of his ex-nemesis is perfectly ok with me. Better he should have the pride and passion than not.

    And D’Antoni – (obviously) I don’t know him, so he may or may not be a “nice guy.” But in my view, he’s CERTAINLY NOT a “fantastic coach” – for the very reasons listed in Zach’s post, and also because his teams don’t play defense, which is obviously by his design, which is another mark of a very defective coach.

  • I love Green

    Haha i liked it. Robinson gets out of D’Antoni’s doghouse drops 41 then a few weeks later back in the doghouse.

  • jonathan

    Well, it’s not like Robinson was going to gain class after joining these Celtics…

  • Max

    Enjoy the little clown. He was given every chance under 3 different coaches in New York, and alienated all of them with his unprofessional, look-at-me circus antics. D’Antoni gave him the longest leash, and Nate abused it every way he could with crotch grabs and fist bumps with Will Ferrell after every basket. Finally, Nate’s watchdogs the Goodwins hustled him out of NY (and tried to blame the Knicks for poor Nate’s exile) when it was clear the Knicks were no longer willing to be a platform for his theatrics.

    He’s a good bench player, and if anyone can pound sense into him, it will be a combination of Doc and KG giving him the death stare every so often. But get used to his antics, and remember that after he scored 41 points, he scored 6 points and missed 9 of 11 shots the next game. His career in a nutshell.

  • Tim

    Actually I believe accounting for pace, the Suns were middle of the pack in defense while he was there.

  • DRJ1

    @Max– In Kelling and Coles’ book, “Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities”, and subsequently in Malcolm Gladwell’s popular “The Tipping Point”, a process is described whereby environment directly affects people’s behavior. One example given was the experience in New York City, where measurable crime dropped suddenly and dramatically after they did certain seemingly small things: eliminating graffiti, fixing broken windows, clearing garbage from the streets, getting rid of the squeegeemen at stop lights, etc.

    Nate may have behaved in a less-than-admirable way while he was in New York in part because he was surrounded by a team in great disarray. And also, probably, because he was an even younger kid then. It’s clearly in his nature to be happy-go-lucky and a bit wild; that’s part of his energy and passion for the game. Put him in the wrong place, and I can see where he might misbehave. Put him in the right place – like where he is now – and he can become a tremendous asset. The very energy and enthusiasm that made him a bit nutty in NY makes him a good counterbalance to the sometimes-over-the-top intensity of a guy like KG.

    So we hope to have better results from him than you did. The best trades are where both sides gain, because the players fit better. That seems to be what’s happening with Nate, and with Walker in return.

  • Promoman

    I can agree that both parties are at fault here. D’Antoni does have a tendency to button-push, play mind games, and lie. Nate’s brain, maturity, and basketball I.Q. match his size: small. When Nate got benched in New York, I’d say it was a combination of karma and for shooting on the goal on purpose that resulted in him getting benched. As bad as Marbury could be, he never did anything that stupid. Plus, Nate was onboard with the Knicks deactivating Marbury and wound up getting the same treatment.

  • Jeff Strange

    D’Antoni is a fantastic coach? He was constantly outcoached by Pop and Jackson in the western conference playoffs, and nearly lost to a lakers team featuring Kobe, Lamar, Smush Parker, and Kwame Brown.

  • mitch

    the taunting would’ve bothered me more if it came from the other team.., you don’t know if there is a bigger picture in the feud between nate the great and run and gun D’antoni…basically my point is…There was a reason for the continuous trash talking….and the only ones who will truly know why….are nate and Mike D..

  • mitch

    i was being sarcastic on the run and gun d’antoni by the way, great defense knicks hahaha

  • Jones’s Keeper

    @DRJ1 – Please read a book called Freakanomics before you spread the psychology way re. the drop in crime rate in NY. Myself, I struggle to see Nate accepting a role in a championship team akin to Crawford, Barnes or West where maturity is the key.

  • DRJ1

    @Jones– Yeah, gotcha. Last thing I wanna do is get into THAT discussion… for sure. (The change in NY was too sudden to fit into Levitt’s model… but whatever, just an opinion.) Forgetting about the books – it’s simply intuitive that Nate would respond differently to different situations. Based partly on what KG said about Nate a couple of weeks ago (“breath of fresh air”, “we love him around here”, etc.) I think he provides a good counterbalance to the EXCESS of maturity on this team. And besides… I like the guy.

  • Ray Leighton

    D’antoni a “fantastic” coach?!? Where did that come from? Mediocre at best. That said, I think that taunting the other team’s coach is always pretty classless, regardless of your previous personal relationship with him. I like it when a player has some attitude, but it shouldn’t extend to obvious and flagrant taunting of the other team’s coach.

    I still think that the jury is out on whether Nate is going to be a true Celtic or not. I like his energy, but he hasn’t been around long enough to determine anything else. The thing that sticks in my mind is that play a few games ago where he personally almost took up the entire 24 seconds on the way to a shot-clock violation — and afterwards, when he was immediately on the bench, KG just reamed him. The Celtics have a long tradition of policing their own, so if anything straightens out Nate, it is going to be this Celtics team.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    Agree that D’Antoni is an over-rated manipulator. Any armchair fan could match the man by growing a cheesy stache and have Steve Nash as their floor general. He has been getting a free ride because everyone is NYC has been looking to 2010/11. This approach has just built up so much expectations that I can only see an ugly crash next year for the knicks.

    I don’t think they will get bron, wade or bosh. My guess is they will end up with a roster including Joe Johnson or Rudy Gay and Amare Stoudamire, still lose, and the NY media will attack fast. It will start with whispering questions about the draft of Gallinari and the casting away of the now productive Nate, and end with D’Antoni on the sidewalk. Nate was just letting him know this in advance :)

    Anything the celts can do to increase their standing as the most hated team in the league is a positive strategic move towards winning in the playoffs. I want this team to be downright nas-tay.

  • Alex

    Nate’s talent does not come close to justifying his childishness. He should go be a star in the D-League and just entertain people. Celts – just like when you took Marbury – you wasted a roster spot on another ex-Knick who won’t make a bit of difference in the win/loss column but will get more than his share of attention. Good riddance.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @alex: i’d be bitter if i was a knicks fan too. even jordan hill looks pretty good for the rockets after you guys gave him away for nothing…..enjoy amare and joe johnson next year….

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