NBA / Jan 18, 2010 / 9:30 am

The Thrilla In Manila: Nate Robinson Talks About His Filipino Roots

“I hope to hear more from Nate Robinson. He is going to have an entire country looking up to him as an inspiration. I am part filipino as well and proud to say “I am pinoy.” – YouTube user Pacman344140Hagler

Manila might be more than a dozen time zones away from Los Angeles, but people in the Philippines are fully aware of what’s going on with the Lakers as well as the other 29 teams in the league. To put things bluntly, Filipinos are crazy for the NBA. And by crazy, I mean like what college football is to people in South Bend. Or what soccer is to people in England and what hockey is to folks in Toronto. Get the point? The league has also taken notice of the passion Filipinos have for basketball.

“For us, the issue is continued growth,” NBA commissioner David Stern told the Philippine Daily Inquirer earlier this month. “We try to be the No. 1 or No. 2 sport in every country. The two places where we know we are the No. 1 sport are the Philippines and China.”

Although there has not been any NBA preseason games in the Philippines as of yet, the league has sponsored several promotional tours there. NBA players like Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gilbert Arenas, Channing Frye and Andre Iguodala have all visited the southeastern Asian country of 92 million people in recent years.

Arenas wrote this in his NBA.com blog in the summer of 2008:

“Then we stopped in Manila. It was a different world. I’ve never seen
fans like that in my life.”

“I was stunned. They made me feel like an NBA star. Any NBA players out there: If you’re having a bad day, or you’re having a bad career, go to Manila. They’ll bring your spirits up, trust me.”

The country’s interest in NBA basketball is amazing considering the fact that they don’t have a player in the league that they can truly identify with. Although Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is half Filipino, there has never been a Philippine-born player in the NBA. Raymond Townsend, who was drafted in the first round of the 1978 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors, was born in America and is half Filipino.

Since Townsend, there hasn’t been anybody with any Filipino blood to play in the NBA – or at least one that was known anyway. But that all changed recently as it was revealed in this YouTube video that the Knicks’ Nate Robinson has some Filipino in him.

Being Filipino myself, naturally this was of interest to me. Before the Knicks played the Raptors on Friday night, I approached Nate in the locker room and asked him if it was true.

“That is true,” Robinson said as he sat at his locker. “I’m like 1/8th, on my momma’s side. But that’s like digging down the line though. It’s like great, great grandparent.”

Looking somewhat surprised, Nate asked me how I found out. I told him about the YouTube clip and how they debated whether that 1/8th was enough to put him on the national team. I also told Robinson about fans in the Philippines and how crazy they are about basketball. Robinson shook his head in amazement and smiled.

“I know that’s what I heard, somebody told me that on Twitter,” Robinson said about the news breaking about his Filipino genes. “I didn’t really take it too seriously. But we’ll see how it goes. Playing on the national team would be pretty cool though.”

I then asked him if his mom had maintained any customs or cooked Filipino food while Robinson was growing up.

“Naw she doesn’t, but she was raised in a Filipino family,” said Robinson. “But I’d really have to ask her about the history behind it and how it was.”

But just because Robinson’s immediate family doesn’t practice Filipino traditions, doesn’t mean the Seattle native is in the dark when it comes to the culture.

“I eat the lumpias (Filipino egg rolls) and everything,” says the 5-9 Robinson. “I have a lot of Filipino friends and we always ate it with sweet and sour sauce. My boy Sylvester, he lives with me. He’s Filipino and black. His mom, makes lumpias for us all the time and we go buy the ingredients when she comes over.”

While seeing Robinson suit up for the Philippine National Team is extremely unlikely, it does give the country another reason to love NBA basketball. Fans in the Philippines probably already love the two-time dunk contest champion – this will just skyrocket his popularity there. You see how much pride us Filipinos have with boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao. Now we can also say we have Nate Robinson.

Well…kind of.

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  • gilford22

    I knew it gerald, you are a Filipino.

    The first time I read your name, i knew your a Filipino.

    As for Nate, well that was suprising and I think in a Basketball-Loving country like ours, it will make us proud.

  • LoBezn0

    WHOAH! That’s a revelation. Here’s hoping he drops by the Philippines some time and maybe hoop it up with the national team while he’s on it. If he gets in, he just might be the Filipino answer to Jordan’s Rasheim Wright.

  • the_don_mega

    never saw that comin’ Gerald… never knew a flip be reppin’ in Dime… and I never imagined Nate to have Pinoy roots as well…

  • gilford22

    Now I know why he’s too short. Haha

  • KnicksFan84

    Explains a lot for Nate. Regardless, it’s nice to see other countries respect the game!

  • http://dimemag.com Dime Magazine

    This is Gerald


    hahah! I knew the short jokes would come out

    yeah I’m 100 percent Filipino. My parents were both born in Angeles City. I visited there in 2004 and remember a bunch of dudes rocking Iverson and LeBron jerseys out there

  • sweetv0mit

    good lookin Gerald!

    Proud to be Flip!

  • arisloco

    Nate has that Filipino swagger.

    Rep yo country, Lil Nate.

  • jwest

    pinoys are definitely knowledgeable about the NBA and you’re reppin’ us well Gerald. I hope Nate Rob plays and strengthens Smart Gilas. You familiar with the bball scene here man?

  • budz

    much love to you nate!

    he showed great sportmanship in being patient with his benching and great swagger in showing off his skills when he got the chance!

    cheers to you and we are hoping you will get to mature by the day. :D

  • shiptar

    this is stupid. 1/8 Filipino, what the f… is that, we are all 1/8 of this nationality, 1/8 of that. The midget just saw a marketing opportunity in this bs.

  • Gunner J. Matthews

    Its always good when you’re a professional athlete playing in the states and you’re from outside the country that has fans show love and support for you

  • Tino

    I’m 100% Filipino too. Yeah, most of us are short. I 5’9″ and I’m the tallest in the family. And yeah, we do like our hoops.

  • fallinup

    I’m half Filipino. And I live in South Bend. So I love the NBA and Notre Dame is a religion here. What what.


    This is huge!!! you should have asked him if he ever ate Balut dood



    wasn’t Dennis rodman 1/8 filipino??? i remember him saying hi to his Grandparents in filipino way back

  • Michorizo

    So Nate and Pacquiao both take steroids?


    Screw that rice-eater, Pac-Man. Coward!

  • JAY

    “Screw that rice-eater, Pac-Man. Coward!”

    Pac-man is the coward?? Get over it bud. Look at Floyd’s track record in hand-picking opponents and compare that to Manny’s “take-on-all-comers-regardless-of-weight” attitude. Manny wasn’t ducking – it clearly was Floyd doing the bobbing and weaving. Anyone to dispute that is blinded by Floyd’s flash.

  • dlee9

    Speaking of Pacquiao and Nate Robinson, who’d actually win in the RING???

    I love Pac Man and all, but I think KryptoNate might surprise a few. Yeah, I know they’re not in the same weight class, but it’ll be interesting.

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    Flip Mode Squad!!!!

  • control


    Nate is just a punk, I think he’d get his face jacked up.

    “Filipinos are crazy”. Direct quote from this article…

    BTW, anyone notice the irony in Gilbert talking about an NBA player going there to feel wanted…does anyone think he’s got tickets to go there right now? He sure as hell ain’t being wanted this side of the pond.

  • Guitar Hero

    1/8. LOL.
    I mean…come on.

  • Guitar Hero

    I’m thinking…Leandro, Nenê, Ryan Gomes or Varejão must be 1/8 Portuguese, or even better. YAY.

  • http://heckler@aol.com Heckler

    Heckler says:

    Attn All,

    whats this (bull)shit about Stephon Marbury playing in/for China?!!?

    any truth to this rumor?….

  • mb

    @ guitar hero

    It must suck being a hater

  • justlovethegame

    lol at 21. that’s precisely what I was about to write. He’s gonna need to make the trip himself soon.

  • Big Island

    Heckler – I read that too. Same squad that Bonzi played for I guess. Who knows.

  • mb

    Kinda reminds me of that Chapelle skit “Racial Draft” I wonder who would draft Nate?

  • quest???

    not to sound ignorant or racist, but why do black ppl always claim they are 1/8 something? Usually its indian or Puerto Rican or Dominican

  • kudos

    I heard Yi Jianlian was 1/10 black. So is he gonna be repping africa?? I’m just saying..

  • sh!tfaced

    1/8?! One f*ckin’ eighth?! LOL. But Pinoy is Pinoy. Nate Robinson knock off jerseys will be selling like crazy in the Flip once they catch news of this.

    Nice one, Gerald. Didn’t know a Cabalen was reppin’ in Dime.

  • gilford22

    Well if this can be at least headlined in the Philippines, we can assume that Nate Robinson’s name will be one of the top vote earners in next year’s ALL STAR.

    BTW… I’m not saying he’s gonna be an all-star unless he play for a winner and contribute.(e.g. CELTICS??)

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    That’s the weirdest news, but I highly doubt nate would suit it up for the Philippines since he’s in a contract year and wouldn’t want to risk the chance of injury.


    Wow. Never saw this coming. Weird news indeed. But news like this makes your day if your Filipino. All these years of watching Nate Rob ball with the Knicks and win the dunk contest, most of us Flips had no idea.

    To let you know how huge basketball is in the Philippines, a somewhat average NBA player like Nate Rob, will get more buzz, bigger hype and a shitload of fans now than fellow Filipino athletes doing/did much better in other pro leagues like Tim Lincecum and Tedy Bruschi, who are(were) truly dominant in baseball and football, respectively.

    Even if its a longshot, Pinoys will still hope and rally for Nate to suit up the national colors – damn right he’s eligible, he just needs to apply for dual citizenship. Because right now, Krypto-Nate gives us our best and closest shot at beating the Chinese. Not really worried about Iran because we played them better than China ever did and if someone like Nate was with them, an upset would have been very possible – point guard play was the RP Team’s real weak spot.

  • erik

    Its true im from orlando currently living in the philippines and the people here love the nba and basketball in general.NBA games, European , FIBA and local leauges are shown 24 hours a day on tv. They love the game, even people who cant afford shoes play in slippers and when they get the ball in fast break they kick off the slippers and run barefoot. Ive even seen people set up woven baskets on trees as hoops.

    nice article. Nate being 1/8the filipino is kinda fun to hear. i doubt he will play for the national team, but it would be cool to see Nate ,Spoelstra and other nba figures come to the country and run some clinics to improve the quality of the game here. It would be a great experience for the people in the philippines and the players, its a beautiful country with lots to offer an experience.

  • Dre

    Dag… all these people on Nate hating because he is 1/8th Filipino. If he is he is… a lot of people don’t know what their heritage. Especially black people who don’t know much about the different regions of Africa they are from much less any other places our ancestors stopped along the way. There is a small since of power when you know a little more about your heritage. So please get off of his back haters.

  • rizzuh

    wow you filipinos orgasm over anything that can even be remotely connected with the philippines. 1/8.. come on now, that’s 12.5% filipino rofl.

  • http://yahoo.com shakashi

    i a filipino
    plan to make the nba with hard work

  • bola

    @ rizzu

    why don’t you have your orgasm in your own ass.. hater..

    Tang-ina mo, pare!

  • bola


    buti nagpakilala kang pinoy ka.. astig ka, tsong!

  • solomon

    uhm… i think the worm ain’t filipino by any means… he has half-bros that are pinoys…

    i think it’s his dad who settled here and laid seeds all over…

  • sh!tfaced


    Fuck yeah. That’s right. Haha. We Flips do orgasm about anything Filipino. See you got also a few insults saying it too. But that is so damn true.


    That’s right. Worm’s dad also lives in the same city where Gerald’s parents are from.

  • http://prosportsdaily.com melvin

    we want nate to be an eligible player in asian games. It will help us to become the no.1 team in asia when he plays for our country. Nate will not aiming high to play on a U.S. Basketball Team!

  • marvin

    1/8,not even half. Are he trying to money on the second largest basketball country in Asia?
    it will be nice to see him in our squad, but its very impossible

  • lt2p

    Lol @ these haters. What difference does it make if Nate is 1/8 Flip or 1/2 Flip? Can’t he and Filipinos be proud of his heritage? Dont hate because you are ignorant of your own history and your own ancestors didn’t have their own names or culture. Black folks are quick to claim Tiger even though he’s less than half black (Tiger’s poppa was 1/4 Chinese 3/4 black) but they hate on Nate?

    In any case that’s not how genes work. You dont get a 12.5% for every great grandparent. You get a chance to get genetic traits for every ancestor going back the line. That’s why you get some really light skinned and dark skinned siblings in the same family. Nate’s genes could be 50% or 1% Flipino it’s all a roll of the dice.

  • Smith Jones

    That’s why Nate is short because its his filipino side. That’s probably a good thing because he trys harder cuz of his size.

  • lance

    Just a kidding thought..

    Maybe he’s related to Topex Robinson of the PBA. lol

  • Tony Dela Cruz

    Nate’s the man! He won the slam dunk contest three times in a role. Thats because hes part pinoy..lol j/k. Be proud of you’re heritage. Rock that Filipino Swagger. Check out this website I found. They sell filipino shirts. http://www.filipinoswagger.com

  • Gav

    Filipinos are hopeless at everything. Nate is only 1/8th filipino, he can thank God he isnt any more than that bcoz he wouldnt be playing in the NBA.

  • BG

    Ricky Brown (Great Taste, NCC, San Miguel) was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1979.