Nate Robinson has proven to be one of the best dunkers in the league over the past few seasons. That doesn't translate into much as soon as he puts on a Boston Celtics jersey for the first time tonight. But Robinson knows that he adds a lot more to this team than a flashy dunk on occasion.
"If you follow the way I play the game, you know, I play hard, I play as a team, I get the crowd involved and I just play the game for the love," Robinson said to the media in his first press conference as a member of the Celtics. "It's not I just dunk, because in the games I barely dunk. But I do a lot of other things that people overlook and oversee because they watch All-Star Weekend once a year and they see me dunk."
For the season, Nate is averaging 13.2 points per game in thirty games at just under 25 minutes per game. He is 51-136 (.375%) from three-point range (Eddie House was 64-167 for .382% before the trade) and averages close to four assists per game. Perhaps Robinson's biggest asset to this team is one that cannot be found in a box score: energy.
Asked what Coach Doc Rivers said to him about his role, Robinson said, "Just come in and be Nate. He doesn't want to change me- just be me. Learn from the bench and, you know, come in and be ready to play."
"Play with that fire, that energy," he continued. "I play with a bunch of energy and I play for the love of the game and I guess that's what it is."
Winning is not something that Robinson is too used to, playing on the Knicks for his entire career. But like Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen two seasons ago, Robinson has been sprung into a situation where winning a championship is a viable option.
"It definitely made me strong as a person and as a player, because it's tough losing almost every night," admitted Robinson. "Here they're accustomed to winning so you got to be able to be strong enough to change your mindset and knowing like ‘we're here to win every night- every single night- and we're not taking any "L's"' and that's the way they carry themselves and that's the way I've been carrying myself since I was a little boy."
Much has been said of the tumultuous relationship between Nate and Knicks head coach Mike D'Antoni, stemming all the way back to Nate's benching and his demanding of a trade out of New York. Without a doubt, that whole situation portrayed Robinson in a negative light, but he will continue to work hard to rid himself of that label.
"I've done everything coach asked and I guess it wasn't good enough," Robinson said. "But I'm always going to keep trying no matter if we don't see eye to eye I'm going to try to do everything I can to help my team win. I still respect Coach, love Coach, everything is the same but now I'm on a different team and I have a new coach that I'm looking up to and listening to."
Robinson now must focus on trying to do everything he can to make his new team, the Celtics, win. Many question his attitude, maturity, and overall ability to gel with his new teammates. The same types of questions arose each of the past two seasons when Sam Cassel and Stephon Marbury joined the team midway though. Both of those players had no issues with the team during the season, so Celtics fans can only hope that Robinson has similar results.
"I'm on track and I'm not looking for any detours. I'm just going to have my mind focused on the prize and that's to, you know, win games in the playoffs and win a championship and help this team do this by any means. Whether I play one minute or whether I play 30 minutes or whatever I'm going to be here helping this team and whenever my number is called I'll be ready to play."