The other day, Paul Pierce talked about Nate Robinson and the importance a change of scenery has had on the fifth-year guard. Pierce was quoted as saying this about the Celtics impact on Robinson:
“Seeing our habits on and off the court, he’s understanding it’s the better routine. When you get around a certain team and there’s no discipline, you tend to go off on your own and do whatever you want. It’s a lot different here. We’re a championship team on and off the court. He’s seeing it and learning from it.”
Pierce is right, Nate Robinson needed the Celtics. He needed their structure, their winning environment, and their veteran leadership. Robinson had been playing for the Knicks, where losing had become a habit as common as Jack Nicholson sitting courtisde at Lakers games. He had no structure in place, and was pretty much playing out the season in New York until the Knicks brought in a marquee free agent this summer. He had a famous clash with Mike D’Antoni earlier this season where he was benched for 14 straight games, and never had veteran guys who could take him under their wing and show him the way. He has found that in Boston.
Robinson’s talent is undeniable. He can score in bunches, and ignite a crowd with his incredible athleticism, but his personality has always been an issue. While he wears his emotions on his sleeve – and that is a big reason why he is beloved by the fans – he has a tendency to disrespect authority and play me-first basketball.
In Boston he can still score in bunches, and still shows his emotions openly, but he has done it in a less detrimental way. Doc Rivers didn’t just let him come in after being acquired in February and play right away. Nate has had to earn the trust of Doc, a task that hasn’t been easy. Nothing has been given to him in Boston, including the playing time he’s gotten in the playoffs, and that coupled with veteran leaders like Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to show him the way has turned Robinson not only into a gifted scorer, but a valued part of a winning team.
When these playoffs end, Robinson will be joining the free agent class of 2010. He has stated a desire to remain in Boston, and keeping him would be a good move for both sides. However, if Robinson can find more money elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprised if he left. If he does leave Boston, he can’t get back into a losing environment (places like Minnesota and Indiana come to mind), because any progress he would have made would go down the drain. Robinson has proved he can be an effective player on a winning team, not just a highlight reel on a losing one, so any winning team in need of bench scoring should seriously pursue Nate.
What do you think?
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