Nate, a Hoops Lifer: 'Until the Day I Die, I'll Keep Playing Basketball'

Dan Raley

Nate Robinson, dressed in black sneakers, shorts, T-shirt and knit cap, shows up ready to run at Rainier Beach High School basketball practice in South Seattle. He drops his gym bag and adjusts his attire.

He's a daily presence in a place where he once played, with his former Vikings coach, Mike Bethea, grinning and describing him "as a consultant." 

Nate has a son on the team, Nahmier, who's a freshman and the oldest of his four children. The former Washington Husky and popular NBA veteran and dunk champion likes to mix in with the Rainier Beach players during these daily workouts and give them all a different look at the game.

Not only that, Robinson's not totally convinced he's done competing at the game's highest level.

It's been more than three years since he last appeared in an NBA game, for the New Orleans Pelicans. That was his seventh team in 11 seasons. It didn't end the way he wanted, just a two-game stop. He's since played pro basketball in Israel, Venezuela and Lebanon, plus the NBA D League. He's always ready for more.

"I'm never done playing," Robinson said. "When you love the game the way I do, and you put the work in, man, it's a forever thing. It's like a  marriage, man, and we're going to last forever. All good things come to an end but, until the day I die, I'll keep playing basketball."  

Meantime, he appears in NBA-related social media offerings, such as hosting a Players Tribune show called Houseguest with Nate Robinson. He interviews athletes and other celebrities in their homes, similar to MTV Cribs. He's got a clothing line coming out soon with former NBA player Carlos Boozer.

He lives in Seattle's suburbs and watches the Rainier Beach team up close and the current Huskies basketball team from afar, intending to catch a UW game in person soon. 

Yet Robinson, who's 35, will tell you that he's still in pro basketball shape, just in case someone needs him. He's willing to go to NBA training camp or play in the summer league if necessary to show what he's got. If that doesn't happen, he's a dad now and he's happy with that. 

Then again, look what's happened recently in the NBA and NFL. Old guys were summoned back in a hurry. Nate stays ready at all times.

"Carmelo Anthony just got signed and Beast Mode came back," Robinson said. "There's always  a possibility. I'm never going to give that up."

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