By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
Nate Robinson is known for his spontaneity, always up for a spur-of-the-moment prank, or pulling off some kind of entertaining scheme (think dunking on Shaquille ONeal during training camp).
But his recent tweets to Pete Carroll, the head coach of his hometown Seattle Seahawks, during the NBA lockout came as no surprise -- football is an undeniable passion of his.
This week the former Boston Celtics guard sent a series of tweets to Carroll including, "@PeteCarroll coach give me a chance and I'll prove it to u WorDaApP the world & all my followers would love to see the outcome lol."
Carroll responded several times (one tweet read: "@nate_robinson we know you have great handles, but the question is: does it translate to DB skills? I kinda think it does...") and told him, "@nate_robinson well then, see you at practice at 1:30. bring your cleats."
Robinson, like many NBA players, also played football in high school. His story took a different turn, though, when he decided to pursue both sports in college at the University of Washington. It was there that he followed in father's footsteps. Jacque Robinson was a tailback for the Huskies and was also named MVP of the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl during his collegiate career.
After splitting time as a point guard and cornerback, Robinson ultimately decided on basketball and went on to make a name for himself in the NBA. While the fact that he played football in college has been well documented, his passion for the sport is easily overshadowed by the success he has achieved as a high-energy Slam Dunk Champ.
Before he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in February, I spoke to Robinson and several other members of the Celtics about the influence playing football had on their basketball careers. Many of them smiled as they recalled their proudest pigskin moments. Others laughed as they bragged about the skills they still possess (dont challenge Jermaine ONeals arm). Another attested to being the best player on the team (hint: Glen Davis).
Robinson was different though. He didn't speak of football as if it were just something he did to pass the time growing up or a bragging right he boasted about as an adult. His passion for the sport was very evident as he explained what the game meant to him:
Football is fun. Its a contact sport. Its a different kind of drive than basketball. Its a different kind of feeling, Robinson said to CSNNE.com. Youve got to imagine, we come in here (TD Garden) and we play in front of 15, 20-thousand. You play football, when I was in college, there were 88- 89,000 out there screaming at the top of their lungs. You get to play outside where the elements change the game. Play in the snow, in the rain, in the mud. I get a kick from it.
Theres so much history. You can feel it going down the tunnel, so much history behind the college, the atmosphere. For me it was crazy because my dad played at the same college. I saw a couple of his accolades that were on the wall when he won an Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl, he was in the Senior Bowl. That has an effect on you because it gets you fired up.
I miss everything about it. Going to play against other schools, putting on equipment, helmets, wrist bands, tape. Every time I put it on when I played in college, it made me feel like I was playing Pee-Wee Football all over again for the first time. It was just awesome.
I fulfilled my dream by playing both sports. I was happy with that. I knew I couldnt continue to do football but one of my goals was to play, and I did that. I knew I had a love for basketball and I had to leave football alone.
The Seattle Times reported Robinson did not attend that 1:30 practice, but don't be surprised if he doesn't leave football alone for good.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.