As he prepares for his 12th season in the NBA, Nate Robinson has been answering the questions surrounding him since he was a teenager. Listed at 5’9”, he is more often than not the shortest player on the basketball court. But that has been the case with him all along and Robinson scoffs at the criticism to this day.
“I’ve been able to dunk a basketball since the age of 13,” he says matter-of-factly.
He modestly credits his uncanny jumping prowess as a “God-given ability,” but he is the epitome of a basketball gym rat and was always playing sports growing up, working hard to hone his current craft.
“I never had time other than to work out, play basketball and football and spend time with my family,” the Denver Nuggets point guard says.
He views his career as an inspiration for others to follow in his footsteps. “I will always play like a kid, as hard as I can,” he comments. “Play for all of the short people; kind of like an underdog story.”
Said story began back in high school when Robinson was a three-sport star – basketball, football and track and field. He attended Washington University initially on a football scholarship as a defensive back in 2002. He made an immediate impact as a freshman on the Huskies but decided to give up his scholarship and made the basketball team as a walk-on in his sophomore year. A year later, his scholarship was switched to basketball and had a memorable college career, earning All-Pac-10 honors in each season before declaring for the NBA Draft a year early in 2005.
Even though he more than proved himself at the collegiate level, Robinson again heard the whispers about his height and more. “There were still questions about my point guard skills when I was going to be drafted,” he recalls. The Phoenix Suns tabbed him with the 21st overall pick in the first round and he was quickly traded to the New York Knicks in a multi-player deal that same night.
As a rookie playing in the big city, Robinson rose to the occasion and lit up Madison Square Garden with his hustling style and dunking ability. He entered the 2006 Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend and won it, becoming a national sensation.
Robinson went on to play for a number of teams and signed with the Nuggets before the 2013-14 campaign.
In regards to what gives him such incredible work ethic, Robinson goes back to when he was young and was given this advice. “My father told me as bad as one person wants something, there’s always someone else who will do it,” he says. “You have to work hard and make it yours. I believed that I could jump higher. You have to play tricks on your own mind.”
When asked how much longer he can play, Robinson said without any hesitation, “Ten more years.”
With the career he has had so far, would anyone doubt him?
MORE NATE ROBINSON
NBA star Nate Robinson and writer Jon Finkel, author of The Dadvantage and the Greatest Stars of the NBA series, have teamed up to tell the inspirational story of how a 5’9” hoop dreamer rose to basketball prominence and three slam dunk titles amid the sport of giants.
In his new book Heart Over Height, available today at Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and StateofNate.com, Robinson shares his motivational story of how he combined dogged determination with unstoppable will to achieve his seemingly impossible goals. In the book, Robinson’s first, he examines the habits of success he mastered that can apply to anyone facing personal obstacles that appear insurmountable.
Throughout the pages of Heart Over Height, Robinson takes fans behind the scenes to the challenges of his childhood as well as his career’s defining moments. Heart Over Height brings to life a story that personifies what it means to persevere.
Starting with Robinson being named both the high school football and basketball Player of the Year in his home state, his surprising selection as the New York Knicks’ first-round draft pick following just two full-time years of playing college basketball and his unprecedented claiming of three NBA Slam Dunk Championships, Nate has defied the odds every step of his journey. His has been the career countless pundits never believed could happen, particularly within a sport dominated by towering athletes.
Having just completed his ninth electrifying season in the NBA, Robinson has proven his doubters wrong. Heart Over Height chronicles the people, places, teams and fans along Nate’s unlikely path that cemented his confidence and made his rise to stardom possible.
Heart Over Height includes interviews with many of Robinson’s greatest influences, including NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, NBA Slam Dunk Champion Spud Webb and University of Washington Men’s Head Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar.
Be sure to follow Nate Robinson on Twitter – Nate_Robinson and on Instagram – NateRobinson
Photos: Dominic DiSaia