NBA Basketball: Nate Robinson
The Northwest has produced phenomenal physical specimens in every major pro sport – but some of the best athletes to come out of that area are also the hard-working underdogs who have overcome amazing odds. Few if any people embody that spirit better than Seattle’s own Nate Robinson.
That the 27-year-old made the NBA as a 5’9” guard at all is impressive. That Nate Robinson is the NBA’s first three-time Slam Dunk Contest winner shows you just how far he’s exceeded expectations.
With a stop in California in between, Robinson played his high-school ball at Rainier Beach High School in Seattle. As a senior he guided the team to a 28-1 record, helped it earn a No. 7 national ranking in USA Today and was named the AAA State player of the year for Washington. Rainier Beach retired his No. 2 in 2010.
Robinson was also a dominant running back in football and, believe it or not, excelled in the 110-meter hurdles and long jump. Despite his small frame, Robinson was a jumping dynamo. Even today, he has one of the NBA’s best vertical leaps at 43.5 inches.
Robinson stayed true to his Washington roots in college, attending the University of Washington.
He led the Huskies to two straight NCAA Tournament appearances in the mid-2000s.
Robinson also stayed true to his multi-sport pedigree, playing football for the Huskies and coming up with a famous interception that helped UW dethrone rival Washington State, which was ranked third in the country at the time in 2002.
Robinson’s success as a football player is less surprising when you learn that his father, Jacque, was the 1982 Rose Bowl MVP and the 1985 Orange Bowl MVP with the Huskies as a running back.
The Phoenix Suns drafted Robinson in the first round of the 2005 draft and he was traded to the New York Knicks before the season started. With the Knicks, the Celtics and, now, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Robinson has been a very productive guard, averaging 11.3 points per game.
But let’s face it: we love Nate for his legendary Slam Dunk Contest performances most of all. He put himself on the map in 2006, jumping over 5’6” 1986 champ Spud Webb to earn a perfect score en route to the title.
He won it again in 2009 by jumping over Dwight Howard (shock and awe!) and won his third dunk contest the following year.
If you’re a great athlete living in the Northwest and you worry about your body holding you back – don’t.
Nate Robinson is proof that the best things sometimes come in small packages.