We spoke with New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson in Manhattan recently.
What is it like dunk on someone taller than you in the Slam Dunk contest?
It’s a challenge for me going against somebody that’s taller because it’s easy for them to dunk because they’re right by the hoop. But me, I have a lot of creativity. The challenge always makes me jump even higher than I ever would. So I think I have the kind of advantage over the bigger tall guys.
Who did you look up to when you knew you wanted to play basketball?
I looked up to Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan was the guy that, of course he was everywhere, but he was one of the guys that paved the way for a lot of kids these days. Even just now knowing Michael Jordan and wanting to be like Michael Jordan and play basketball like him, he paved the way for me.
What do you need to do to become a basketball player?
First you got to love the game. You got to love whatever sport that you want to play. If you want to play basketball you got to love it and then you got to put a lot of work into it. It’s not like overnight you just become the best player like Kobe Bryant], LeBron . They practiced a lot growing up as kids. High school, college and then being in the NBA, being a professional, they work very, very hard.
If you could pick any team to play for, what team would that be?
How does it feel to score and have the crowd go wild?
Oh, that’s the best feeling. It’s weird because before you do anything good I blank out. I blank out. I don’t hear a crowd; I don’t see the crowd until something amazing happens then it’s like a big parade in the Garden. Unbelievable.
What is your most memorable game?
Most memorable game would probably be — I have two of them. One I had a shot a game win over Allen Iverson, that was the first game I ever had in my life. I think it was unbelievable for me to hit a game over my favorite player and then I had 41 points against the Indiana Pacers and Will Ferrell was there. We were shaking and baking all night. Awesome.
How did you learn to jump so high?
God gave me the ability but I always believed in myself. If you believe in yourself you can probably jump as high as I can.
Is it hard to make the perfect dunk?
Yeah because you got to make it in the first try. So whatever you do you got to make it on the first try. So whatever dunk you do you got to make it on the first try. You don’t want to keep going over and over. It’s pretty difficult but once you get it to perfection it comes natural.
Since you come from Washington, were you a Clippers fan?
Clippers fan? Seattle is the Sonics, but I don’t know too many fans. I don’t even think L.A. fans are Clipper fans. But they got a couple fans here and there. I like the coach.
What do the Knicks need to do to be such a great team?
Defense. Our defense sucks. Yeah we got to play better defense as a team, but hopefully this year we can do that.
Is your coach, Mike D’Antoni nice?
He’s nice, he’s awesome.
Where did you grow up and did you practice a lot?
I grew up in Seattle, Washington and as a kid I played three sports. So I always practiced a lot. I ran track, I played basketball and I played football. So I was always busy.
What do you plan to do after basketball?
Believe it or not I want to be a football coach. I know it sounds weird, but I love football too. I want to be a little league football coach.
What do you do in the off season?
I spend time with my family. A lot of time with my family and friends. Of course play a lot of video games. A lot of my friends we love playing, like I said, 2k and 2K10 and any video games that we play we’re competitive. So we might bet guys 100 pushups. For every game if you get beat by 20 you got to do 40 pushups. So for every game you got to beat every game or you’re doing pushups.
Why did you change your uniform number?
That’s the first number I ever had as a kid when I played, my coaches, I asked for number 2 because of Deion Sanders. Deion Sanders was number 2 at Florida State. He played football. That was my favorite player. My favorite athlete was Deion Sanders. So I represent number 2 for him.
What NBA players do you most like to watch?
What player do I like to watch. Shaq is funny. Shaq’s kind of goofy. He plays. But him, LeBron , probably Kobe and Dwyane Wade.