by Marcel Mutoni

Nate Robinson only knows how to play basketball one way: with manic, sometimes totally out of control energy. It’s what makes him unique, and one of the reasons he’s been able to make a name (and a living) for himself in the NBA.

His coach, though, believes Robinson is hurting himself and the team.

Newsday caught up with Mike D’Antoni, who claims that Nate Robinson is the key to the Knicks’ success this season, and ultimately the one who will determine which direction the team takes next summer:

“That’s why we’re on a one-year contract. That’s why we’ve won 32 games,” D’Antoni said after practice. “If Nate gets it and we get it, we can get in the playoffs and the guys can find homes. I think that’s everyone’s goal.”

D’Antoni was asked what were some of the wrong things Robinson was doing. “There’s a lot of things like grabbing people, cutting down on technicals,” D’Antoni said. “He’s got to do a better job of keeping his mind right and focused on the game. “The guy could average a lot of points. If he concentrates and keeps his mind in the game, his numbers should go way up and he should make us a winner.”

D’Antoni may be putting a lot of pressure on one guy, but he’s also not wrong in doing so.

Everyone knows that the Knicks are basically sitting on their hands until next summer’s free agent bonanza, but in order to do anything meaningful this season, it’s Robinson who must lead the way.

Scary of a thought as that may be.