A former Golden State Warriors player is opening up about his struggles with mental health that resulted from his basketball career.
Nate Robinson is most known for his high-flying dunking ability despite being only 5’9’’, but height wasn’t the only factor he’s had to overcome.
There’s a fascinating story written by Mirin Fader for Bleacher Report that details Robinson’s mental health struggle during his career and how it relates to his attempt now to make an NBA comeback.
Robinson says he sought therapy after the mental grind that came with how NBA coaches wanted him to change who he was.
While Robinson acknowledged that he was at times immature, he was also often misunderstood by his coaches. He specifically noted his issues with Tom Thibodeau and Larry Brown. As coach of the New York Knicks, Brown would call Robinson “the little s—” every day.
Robinson came to Brown’s office in tears asking him to stop, but Brown responded by calling him it in front of teammates again and telling the players that Robinson had come to his office crying about it.
Brown basically said that while he doesn’t want to dispute Robinson’s story, he personally doesn’t remember that happening, although he feels terrible in hindsight if that actually did occur.
Robinson was never a player who fully grasped the concept of moderation. He was constantly care-free no matter the context of a situation.
He was scrappy, tenacious, and immensely talented but prone to mental lapses and unnecessary showboating that too often derailed a possession.
The profile talks about how Robinson tried to change his behavior through therapy and leaning on teammates to guide him through better preparation habits.
It seemed to take a toll on him mentally, though. The reality was that part of what made Robinson great as a player also served as a detriment during his career.
If a player has trouble focusing, it makes sense that a coach is going to try to change that behavior for the betterment of the team.
Obviously what Brown did was cruel and unnecessary, but from a coach’s perspective, Robinson was probably a bit of a handful at times.
Robinson even acknowledges his occasional difficulty in the story, but there’s no reason why two main points can’t be true.
It’s true that Robinson was too wild at times, but it’s also true that the grueling NBA lifestyle and the pressure to change core personality traits contributed to a decline in his mental health.
We all wish Robinson the best going forward. He’s a great player and, hopefully, he’s gotten control of those inner demons.