Robinson awaits makeshift homecoming in Portland

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Robinson awaits makeshift homecoming in Portland

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

Nate Robinson doesnt get a homecoming anymore.

He hasnt had one in over two years. When the SuperSonics left Seattle and became the Oklahoma City Thunder, his chance to play in front of his home crowd went with them.

Robinsons closest opportunity to a homecoming this season comes when the Boston Celtics play the Trail Blazers in Portland, Ore. on Thursday.

His friends and family will be on hand to welcome him at the Rose Garden, nearly 200 miles south from the KeyArena in Seattle.

For me, its great, Robinson told CSNNE.com. Its awesome. I get to play in front of my mom, which I would love to do every day if I could. Shes always there cheering me on. I get to see some of my friends that I dont get to see as much. My mom, my nephew, hopefully my little sister, all my friends I grew up with, playing Little League with, theyre going to be there for sure.

Robinson, who has a tattoo of the Seattle skyline on the back of his neck, has spent his entire NBA career on the East Coast. Having only played for the Celtics and New York Knicks, he looks forward to returning out west.

But even though he will see his loved ones, there is still an empty feeling knowing they have to travel to another state to see him play.

Tough, tough, tough, its been real tough, he said of the Sonics departure. The first two years of Robinson's career, the Sonics were there. When I first went back home with the Knicks, I got a standing ovation, me and Seattle native Jamal Crawford, and then we ended up winning the game. Thats when Ray Allen was playing back with the Sonics. It was lovely, just to feel the love. It sucks that we dont get to go back.

The SuperSonics played a major role in Robinsons road to the NBA. As a child, he looked up to Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Detlef Schrempf.

They were the heart of Seattle, he said. It was the Sonics, all we had.

Today, the city blocks that once housed Robinsons dreams of basketball greatness have a different meaning.

Its like a ghost town, he said. I used to watch the Sonics play and we used to always stop by this little restaurant right across the street from the arena. And now going by there, knowing theres no Sonics, theres no reason to even go there anymore.

After experiencing a Sonics-less Seattle, Robinson cant help his feelings when he travels to Oklahoma every season instead of Washington.

When we play in Oklahoma City, I kind of get pissed, he admits. It kind of eats me alive, knowing were in Oklahoma and we could be in Seattle. Like, are you serious? Night and day.

Robinson may not have the opportunity to play in front of his home crowd anymore, but he will have plenty of reminders of it in the stands on Thursday against the Trail Blazers.

Having my mother there is a little piece of home, he said. Now being a grown man and not seeing your mom every day, it kind of sucks. Im kind of a mamas boy. But Mom Dukes will be there, cheering loud. She always makes me feel good, no matter if I play or not. Its a warm feeling.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

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Horford believes Celtics give him best chance at 'ultimate goal' of NBA Championship

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Pinpointing the exact moment Al Horford made up his mind to become a Boston Celtics isn’t clear, but the seeds of that decision can be traced back to last year’s playoffs – and no we’re not talking about the playoff series between Boston and Atlanta, either.
 
It was the Hawk’s second-round playoff series back in May against Cleveland, a team that swept them out of the Conference finals in 2015 and did so again last about five months ago.
 
Horford had every intention of returning to Atlanta, but as the free agency period wore on two things became quite clear: Winning an NBA title would have to go through Cleveland and it happening with him in Atlanta was becoming more and more unlikely.
 
In came the Celtics with a pitch that was heavy on present-day and down-the-road potential that wouldn’t require him to do anything other than continue to play the way he has for the past nine seasons.
 
“It (becoming a Celtic) became real for me real late and real quick,” Horford told CSNNE.com on Wednesday.
 
After mulling it over for a couple days, Horford said he was ready to become a Celtic.
 
“This could be a great opportunity even though I’m leaving a lot behind,” Horford said.
 
As you listen to Horford speak, it’s clear that the Celtics mystique played a role in his decision to sign with Boston.

 But as much as the Celtics’ lore and its on-the-rise status helped, there were certain events that Boston had no control over that actually helped their cause.
 
First the Hawks got in on a three-team trade in June with Utah and Indiana which sent Hawks All-Star point guard Jeff Teague to the Pacers while Atlanta received Utah’s first-round pick which was 12th overall and was used by Atlanta to select Baylor’s Taurean Prince. The move allowed Atlanta’s Dennis Schroeder to slide over into the now-vacant starting point guard position.
 
While it may help Atlanta down the road, it did little to move them closer towards knocking off Cleveland anytime soon.
 
And then there was the Hawks coming to terms on a three-year, $70.5 million deal with Dwight Howard early in the free agency period. That deal coupled with Atlanta’s desire to bring Kent Bazemore back, cast serious doubt as to whether Horford would return.
 
Horford, who inked a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston, told CSNNE.com that at the time of Atlanta’s deal with Howard, he was still open to the idea of returning.
 
But if Horford did, he knew figuring out the best way to play him, Howard and Paul Millsap who by the way has a player option that he’s likely to exercise which would make him a free agent next summer, was not going to be easy.

“It was definitely going to be different,” Horford said, then adding, “For me, the Celtics were becoming more and more a realistic option. After talking with my family, we felt this was the best for me.”
 
And while it’s still very early in his tenure as a Celtic, Horford has no regrets or second thoughts about his decision.
 
“As a player you always want to be in the best position you can,” Horford said. “I felt for me being on this team would put me in a position to be able to contend and win an NBA championship. That’s my ultimate goal.”
 
And that alone makes him a good fit with this franchise which from ownership to the front office to the coaching staff and of course the players, are all focused on one thing and that’s bringing home Banner 18.
 
 “Look at the resume. He’s been a winner wherever he’s played,” said Boston’s Amir Johnson. “It’s good to have a guy like that, with his talent and with his winning, playing next to you.”