New York’s Little Big Man

By Jerald L. Hoover
Updated: February 26, 2009

NEW YORK — That’s right folks, it’s been eons and a day since Knick fans even so much as sniffed a Playoff spot let alone won a Playoff series but thanks to the reigning NBA Slam Dunk Champion Nate Robinson, the Knicks are in the hunt for one of the top eight Playoff spots.

Sure, Robinson is a victim and product of new coach Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system; but so is Mr. Double-Double himself, David Lee. And Lee was being touted out as a potential All-star game participant.

At a generously listed height of 5-foot-9 (my eyes see him at 5-foot-7) Robinson is a freak of nature for all that he does on the court. Former Knicks coach, Larry Brown once sarcastically surnamed him, “a highlight reel”, for his physical exploits and work on the court without using his cerebral.

Now Robinson after nearly 5 seasons in the league is rounding out into a more complete player — which is spelling major trouble for Knick opponents. It’s not enough that he jumped over a legitimate 7-footer in Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard to capture his second Slam Dunk Competition title in 3 years, but he’s playing the game…as Brown would say, ‘the right way.’

Robinson’s still as hyper and energetic as they come but his talent and patience are starting to show more and thus the dividends are being paid tremendously. After the Knicks’ dramatic 123-119 over the injury depleted Indiana Pacers recently the Knicks surpassed last years 24 win total.

And since the All-star break Robinson has been playing out of his mind. “He is probably been playing the best basketball this particular month. I’m sure he will get named Eastern Conference player of the week. He is on a dramatic tear since the All-star break and he just had another great performance,” said Pacer Jarrett Jack who scored an impressive 33 points to dwarf Robinson’s 41 points off the bench.

Since the break, Robinson has been averaging 29.3 points per game.

Robinson’s point total off the bench tied a long standing Knicks record set by Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, December 17, 1978 against the Atlanta Hawks. Against the Pacers, Robinson didn’t force many shots as he was 11-18 from the field and 15-19 from the charity stripe.

Lee said, “Nate’s play was unbelievable throughout the whole third and fourth quarter. Anytime he plays like that, its touch to stop him.”

Throughout the game Robinson was musing with actor/comedian Will Ferrell including one time when he made a 3-pointer and got fouled. Robinson before shooting and missing the free-throw slowly sashayed over to Ferrell and fist bumped him.

The way Robinson’s playing (in his contract year) he could’ve head butted Ferrell into unconsciousness and all would’ve been well.

When Coach D’Antoni was asked why he starting point guard Chris Duhon in favor of Robinson, the coach responded with candor, “Maybe the 41 points and just him making every big play out there probably did it.”

“He was terrific. When we lacked energy and lacked a little focus, he really picked it up and he did a terrific job.”

As it stands now, the Knicks are two and a half games out of the last playoff spot following Wednesday’s loss to Orlando. If they learn to play a little better defensively and not take any days off after climatic wins there’s a chance they would be able to say “goodbye” to Lotteryville and “hello” to, ‘the show’.