Nate Robinson: ‘Right Now My Main Focus is Basketball, Getting Back in the NBA’

Nate Robinson hasn’t played in the NBA in almost a full year, and all of the headlines with his name in them recently have been about his interest in playing professional football, not basketball. But Robinson, 32, told SLAM over the weekend that getting back in the NBA is his priority.

The three-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion last played for the New Orleans Pelicans in October of last year, before spending the bulk of the 2016 season tearing up the Israeli League. Earlier this month, ESPN reported that Nate was working with Odell Beckham Jr. and DeSean Jackson’s trainer to work on molding himself into an NFL wide receiver.

On Saturday, Robinson was in Austin, TX for the third annual Kick & Roll Classic, a sneaker-themed 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament hosted by the Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation.

He was rocking an iced-out Seahawks chain and a University of Washington hat (the college where he starred as both a high-flying guard on the basketball court and a ball-hawking defensive back on the football field). So we caught up with him briefly to see where his head is at in terms of the NFL vs. the NBA, and to get his thoughts on the biggest NBA storyline of the summer.

On his tryout earlier this summer with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks:

I had a workout with the Seahawks. I just want to thank them, the whole organization, the coaches, everybody for giving me a shot to be on the field again. For me, just that alone was enough for me as a former football player—and a dream come true because you know, not too many people get to say they worked out at the Seahawks facility. Super Bowl champs at one time. Our city’s been dying for a team to be that good. We had the Sonics that were good, we had the Mariners that were good, now we have the football team, and hopefully we can just keep it going.

On whether he’s expecting another call from the Seahawks this fall:

Hopefully in August, some time, something happens. If not, right now my main focus is basketball, getting back in the NBA. Just trying to change a couple—tweak some of the things that they need me to tweak that they say is “off the court problems” or whatever it is. I just want to show them that I put in the work. I’m one of the hardest working NBA guys that’s out there, and I think I deserve another shot to show that I can be everything that people saw when I was in Chicago.

On Kevin Durant’s decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors:

I love it. I love how he stirred up the mix. LeBron did it, and a lot of guys are going elsewhere. The NBA is the NBA. You have a job. You’re always on the road, that’s how I look at it. I played on six or seven different teams, there’s only a few guys that get the opportunity to play for one organization their whole career. And you see it’s Kobes, it’s Tim Duncans, it’s the Dirk Nowitzkis, it’s guys like that who stay with one organization. For me, I just think when you play for multiple teams, you just get a bigger fan base. Some people will hate you for leaving but I think it’s a great move.

Look out for more from Nate, and from the Kick & Roll Classic, in this summer’s print issue of KICKS—coming soon.