Nate Robinson: 'The NBA Gave Me my Depression' | Def Pen
Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson opened up about his depression in a feature by Bleacher Report’s Mirin Fader. (Tyler Kaufman for AP Photo)

In an interview with Bleacher Report’s Mirin Fader, Nate Robinson, who played 11 seasons in the NBA, opened up about his depression:

“The NBA gave me my depression,” Robinson says. “I’ve never been a depressed person in my life.”

In her phenomenal profile of Robinson, Fader details Robinson’s timeline in the NBA. From the confident, beloved kid who played for the Chicago Bulls, all the way to his most recent experiences playing overseas.

Robinson discussed the way he consistently felt in the NBA: that his coaches never wanted him to be himself:

“They misinterpreted how I was,” he says. But later, a part of him softens. “I will take my cake and say I was immature.”

Robinson says current NBA players, though, are held to different standards. He says they’re celebrated for things he would have been criticized for, like Lonzo Ball rapping and dancing and Boban Marjanovic riding around Staples Center in a go-kart. He says players are lauded for playing Fortnite, though he was called unfocused because he stayed up playing Madden until 2 a.m.

Depressed, Robinson eventually ended up in therapy. He went into an instance of verbal abuse he found himself on the receiving end of from his former coach, Larry Brown:

While in therapy, Robinson questioned himself and God. He wondered if he should have pursued football instead. He opened up about struggles few knew about, like the time, he said, Brown allegedly referred to him daily as “the little shit.” On another occasion, Robinson came into Brown’s office, crying, telling his coach to stop demeaning him. Ten minutes later, in front of the team, Brown called Robinson “the little shit” again and shared that he had cried.

For his NBA career (so far, anyway; at age 34, Robinson could still make an NBA return), Robinson has averaged 11 points and three assists per game. Despite his 5-foot-9 frame, Robinson won a record three NBA Slam Dunk Contests.


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