In a league of extraordinarily tall gentleman, Nate Robinson stands all of 5-foot-9.
Though his body is die-cut with muscle as if he was chiseled from stone], he's listed at 180 pounds even.
Why then, are the Chicago Bulls relying so heavily on a pint-sized guard in what they hope will be a long, fulfilling playoff run?
Unflappable confidence, series-shifting energy and at-will scoring ability, to start.
The contrast beween Robinson, an instinctual, frenetic wrecking ball prone to making poor decisions and Tom Thibodeau, his cerebral, detail-obsessed coach who's made his name wringing on-court errors out of his players, is palpable.
It could be their own sitcom really, Nate-Rob zipping up and down the court throwing ill-advised three pointers two seconds into the shot clock, Thibs screaming with his hands waving in the air or shaking his head in disgust.
But it's been these usually brief mental lapses that have unfairly come to characterize Robinson, both by some of the fans and much of the Chicago media.
The few mistakes a game make some people forget how Robinson, a volume shooter--348 attempts, 33rd most in the NBA this year-- shot a sparkling 40.5% from beyond the arc in the regular season. His accuarcy was easily the Bulls best, and it was good for first-page status among his peers on NBA.com/stats.
His 13.1 points and 4.4 assists a game bailed out the Bulls time and time again off the bench, and ultimately helped earn him four 3rd-place votes in 6th man of the year balloting.
Point to one game when Nate helped lose the Bulls a game this season and I'll show you five more where he was a crucial component in the win.
And consider this: The Bulls only paid the 28-year-old Robinson $854,389 in his only season with the Bulls.
That's the veteran's minimum. Otherwise known as 5.58% of what Carlos Boozer made.
In short, all he gives has been pure value for the organization. Making it a wonder why he takes so much criticism.
In fairness, there are also legions of Bulls fans that stand behind Nate no matter what. But it takes the proper perspective to reveal the true value the Seattle-native has brought to Chicago.
Fast-forward to the present.
The Bulls are locked in a 1-1 series with the Brooklyn Nets and Robinson has already demonstrated how critical he is to the team's success.
The 8-year pro is averaging 14.0 points while shooting a red-hot 56.3% from the field. He's already sunk a few of his signature, momentum-grabbing threes.
Despite his smaller stature, the turf-toughened former University of Washington RB never strays from a fight.
Earlier this season, New York Knicks wing Steve Novak whined about Robinson using the "Discount Double Check" celebration media. Curiously so, I might add, because Novak just ripped it off Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Robinson was unphased, despite Novak's bullying tweets/comments (video).
He didn't mince words regarding a brewing playoff rivalry with BKN point guard C.J Watson either.
"I don't like him and he doesn't like me, Nate told ESPNChicago.com. There's animosity between us."
Thibs knows he needs Nate in these playoffs, and he's dolling out the minutes--23.0 per game so far--for emphasis.
In the end, Chicago is hurt. Brooklyn is more talented. But the truth in one time-tested principle resonates with Bulls fans everywhere. As Mark Twain once explained:
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
Adam Jun writes Chicago Bulls content for the Chicago Hoops forum on sportsideo.com
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