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