It was hard to find a more compelling story in the NBA last season than that of Seattle native and UW grad Nate Robinson. Sure, he played for a shitty team (the Knicks), but on that shitty team, the 5'9" human pogo stick managed to have a career campaign, winning the league's dunk contest, averaging 17 points per game off the bench, making a legitimate case for Sixth Man of the Year honors, having his jersey crack the Top 10 in league-wide sales, and--icing of all icings--making the cover of Seattle Weekly.
Is it appropriate for a benchwarmer to don a cape?
But this season, and especially last night, the legend of Nate-Rob came crashing down to earth with a cruel thud.In the recent past, Nate-Rob's breakout year might have earned him a multi-year deal to the tune of about $7 million per. But he happened to enjoy that level of success during the Great Recession, a crisis so far-reaching it even impacted the bottom lines of NBA teams and their millionaire players. Hence, Nate-Rob flirted with playing in Greece before signing a pedestrian one-year deal with the Knicks.
All's well that ends in the Apple, right? Wrong. An injury-plagued Robinson has shown few flashes of his '08-'09 self thus far this season, averaging 10 points per game while playing uneven minutes off the bench. And last night, Knick Coach Mike D'Antoni provided Nate-Rob with the ultimate indignity: a DNP-CD (did not play, coach's decision), handing his spot in the rotation to rookie Toney Douglas.
"It's just something we're trying to build a winning group and you have to go with that," D'Antoni told Newsday's Alan Hahn after the game. "We want to win and if he's conducive to winning then he'll obviously be back in the lineup. If not, then not."
Wow. Just like that, from the top of the world to the end of the bench for one of the worst teams in the league. Greece might look a whole lot better to Nate-Rob come 2010, we're thinking.