You may know Nate Robinson as the 5’9 point guard who has won the most slam dunk contests by any NBA player.

What you may not know is that, like many other NBA athletes, Robinson has been dealing with depression.

Robinson blames his experience in the league for his mental health struggles, stating that “The NBA gave me my depression. I’ve never been a depressed person in my life.” He continued to speak on the hardships he has encountered, stating, “But the hardest thing in my whole life, of my 34 years in existence on earth, was dealing with 11 years in the NBA of trying to be somebody that [NBA coaches] want me to be.”

Robinson began his career as a New York Knick, and did not have a pleasant experience with former head coach Larry Brown. The 11-year veteran says that he suffered emotional abuse at the hands of Brown. He claims the former NBA Coach of the Year would poke fun at the guard constantly for his height, referring to him as “the little sh*t” on a daily basis.

Fed up with the coach’s prolonged verbal abuse, Robinson tried to resolve the situation by sitting down with Brown to discuss how he had been treating him.

The emotional conversation resulted in Robinson breaking out into tears. In spite of his pleas, however, the belittling continued.

Robinson said that no more than ten minutes had passed before Brown called him “the little sh*t” again, going on to let the rest of the team know that Robinson had cried.

When asked about the incident, Larry Brown commented on the matter by stating, “I don’t have any recollection. I don’t; I don’t know … I don’t know what I called him, to be honest with you. If I did that, shame on me. I would feel terrible about that. That’s not who I am, but I don’t want to dispute Nate.”

Robinson feels the NBA wronged him the point that he wonders if he chose the wrong career path. In addition to his skills in basketball, Nate Robinson was also a gifted football player who believes he could have carved out a career in the NFL. In fact, he was so good that a booster offered him 100,000 dollars a year to return to Washington University’s football team.

Robinson had played cornerback for the university on a full scholarship before he decided to concentrate on basketball in his sophomore year. However, his decision to give up on the pigskin does not mean that he couldn’t have made it in the National Football League. Even after his time in the NBA was over, he still was able to earn a tryout for the Seattle Seahawks, which is an accomplishment in itself.

Despite the hostile environment he had to endure, Nate Robinson refused to let his height limit him. He carved out a role as a reliable scoring option for New York, averaging as many as 17.2 points per game in the 2009 NBA season. He spent about four and a half of his first five seasons in a Knicks uniform before bouncing from team to team for the rest of his career.

Following his departure from Madison Square Garden, Robinson struggled to produce until he signed with the Chicago Bulls in July of 2012. He found his groove in the Windy City, averaging 13.1 points and 4.4 assists per game in only 25 minutes of action. His real value presented itself in the playoffs when Robinson posted 195 points in twelve games.

Perhaps his most impressive performance for the Bulls came in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, where he dropped 23 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter to lead his team past the Brooklyn Nets. After his stellar performance, NBA legend Steve Kerr said, “they might have to put a statue of this guy outside the building, right next to Michael.”

Now, the player formerly known as “Nate the Great” has been out of the NBA since 2015. He last played for Guaros de Lara of the Liga Profesional de Baloncesto in 2017. Here, he helped the team secure the Venezuelan League Championship, being named Grand Final MVP in the process.

 

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons