It may be just a game that doesn't count in the standings, but for Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson, it's a return back to the city in which he said he experienced the most love from in his nine-year career.
“It’s something special to me because of the season from last year and what we did,” Robinson said. “It was a pretty special season with a great group of guys. I miss it. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t. The guys over there show me so much love, the coaching staff, the organization and the fans. I had a hell of a year and it was a great run.”
The Nuggets arrived in Chicago on Thursday and Robinson was able to have dinner with Jimmy Butler and be gifted cupcakes from Carlos Boozer. He also got a chance to chat with some of his former teammates before the tip-off.
He averaged 13.1 points and shot 40 percent from 3-point range. He also averaged a postseason high of 16.3 points and was the sole reason the Bulls were able to advance past the Brooklyn Nets in the first round as his 34 points in the team’s Game 4 triple-overtime win gave the Bulls a 3-1 series lead. The Bulls would defeat the Nets in seven games and lose to the eventual champion Miami Heat in five games.
In love with the city and his teammates, he made his wanting to return to Chicago no secret, but with Derrick Rose returning, Kirk Hinrich backing him up and Marquis Teague needing some playing time, the Bulls elected not to re-sign him. After waiting on an offer late into the summer, the Nuggets signed him to a two-year deal, giving him the security that he sought after.
“This is a business. Everyone knows that I wanted to come back but (Bulls organization) had other things in mind,” Robinson said. “They signed a great shooter in (Mike) Dunleavy. They have good rookies and plus they have D. Rose coming back. Why have Nate Robinson when you have D Rose? I know that’s been the talk around the league – Pooh’s back healthy and looking good and he’s the man and that’s how it should be.
“Coach (Brian) Shaw and the organization did a good job going after me and getting me here. For that, I’m going to do everything to show them how much I appreciate that. It just feels good to know that I have a home here for at least two years. I’m going to go out and play as hard as I can for as long as I can.”
Robinson also said he isn’t surprised at how good Rose has looked this early.
“He was that good last year, but I told him to take his time and come back when you want,” he said. “Don’t let anyone push you into coming back when they want to. You’re your own investment and you know when you’re ready, and it shows now. For me, it’s fun to see because my son loves him. D Rose is a standup guy, one of the best superstars we have in the game and it’s a treat to just watch him play.”
On if he ever would’ve had a chance to play alongside Rose, what it would’ve looked like, he said “It would’ve definitely been scary. But, you never know. Anything can happen.”
At 29, he’s one of the older guys on the roster for Denver and first year head coach Brian Shaw has placed him in a leadership role.
“He’s been good. The guys on the team respect him,” Shaw said. “He hits them all the time with “heart over height.” They know that he’s had to overcome a lot of obstacles in his life and his career because of his height. To prove the doubters wrong, I think the guys respect that. He comes in every day and challenges Ty Lawson at that point guard position and he just works and younger guys follow his lead.”