Player receives 14 DNP-CDs in a row from his coach. Player returns from said DNP-CDs to score 41 points, off the bench, in a win against the Atlanta Hawks. Player continues squabbling with coach, leading to player’s trade from the team. Player lands on new team, a championship contender (at least on paper), and becomes the team’s sixth man. Player returns to his old gym to face his old team, a couple months after being traded away, and scores point after point after point after point, blowing kisses at his former coach after every bucket while proving just how badly his former coach misjudged him.
Man, dreaming is good. In reality, Nate Robinson won’t be blowing Mike D’Antoni any kisses tonight, and he probably won’t be scoring any points either. Actually, it’s likely he won’t even be inserted into the game. It’s Robinson’s first game back in New York, but it looks like he’ll get another DNP-CD. Being out of the rotation sure does suck.
Doc Rivers won’t count Robinson or his bench buddy Marquis Daniels completely out of the rotation yet, but all signs point to another splinter-filled night for both players. “Their role right now is to keep working every day in practice,” Doc Rivers said. Ouch. Double ouch. Especially for Robinson.
Tonight could have been special for him. It’s his maiden return to Madison Square Garden — where, despite his beef with D’Antoni, Robinson was a real crowd favorite. It could have been sweet. The coach he butted heads with preparing for a summer filled with golf and free agent speculation, while Robinson, readying himself for the playoffs, played the role of instant offense off a contender’s bench. I can only imagine how nice it would have been for Robinson, being defended by Chris Duhon, to score at will while thinking to himself, “Man, I am so much better than this chump. Nice decision to play him instead of me, D’Antoni… you dumb bastard.“ Maybe Robinson even would have had a spectacular dunk, bringing the away crowd to its feet in applause of his aerial expertise.
Too bad real life isn’t that picturesque. If Doc’s rotation has been changed as he says it has, Nate won’t be doing any of the things he envisioned. “Right now they are [out of the rotation], but that doesn’t mean they won’t be back in it,” Rivers said of Robinson and Daniels. “They’ll have their day, too. They’ll play in the playoffs. There’ll be games when you’re going to need them. That’s how this team is built. We’ll use who we need to use in that given game to win that game.”
Robinson and Daniels will “have their day, too” but, chances are, it won’t be tonight. For Robinson, his idea of a return to New York has changed from visions of dunks and three-pointers to visions of layup lines.
Tonight, in all likelihood, Robinson will sit back, grab a nice seat on the bench and a cold cup of Gatorade, and watch from the same view he experienced during all those other DNP-CDs he had in New York. The only differences will be that, this time, he’ll be watching from the opposite side of the court in a different warmup suit. Instead of proving Mike D’Antoni and his endless string of benchings wrong, Robinson will probably be trying to suppress boredom as he watches his new team and his old team clash. Without him.
Not that Robinson won’t still consider the night to be special. Even if their old favorite doesn’t play a minute, the New York crowd will probably recognize him and make his night worth it.
“He’s the most popular player I’ve ever been teammates with,” said Eddy Curry of the Diminutive Dunker. “I think the fans respected what he did. Even though we weren’t playing the best, he gave them heart and soul and I think they’re going to recognize that.” If Robinson gets the reception Curry expects, said Curry, “He said he might shed tears.”
Just don’t expect any tears from Mike D’Antoni. The Knicks coach was cold when asked about Robinson. “I’m more worried about (Kevin) Garnett and (Ray) Allen,” he said.
Come to think of it, so is Doc Rivers.
Three things to look for during tonight’s game:
- Billy, sweet Billy boy – Celtics fans, stop banging your head against a wall. Please. While Nate Robinson has earned his way out of Doc’s rotation, Walker has averaged almost 17 points per game over his last three games. Can he continue his good play against his old team?
- Road Warriors – After a six-game home stand that resulted in a 3-3 record, the Celtics take their show back on the road, where the C’s have the second-best record in the entire NBA (behind the Cavs).
- Ray Allen’s shooting – Ray-Ray scored 33 big ones on Sunday. Whenever he gets hot, the Celtics have an extra dimension. Stay money, Ray.