Sports

NBA's Nate Robinson to host Mercer Island b-ball camp

New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson will hold his first Seattle-area basketball camp at the end of July at the Community Center at Mercer View on Mercer Island. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson will hold his first Seattle-area basketball camp at the end of July at the Community Center at Mercer View on Mercer Island.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson has a history with Mercer Island. The former Rainier Beach High School and University of Washington star played big games against the Islander boys basketball team and with former Islander standout Brandon Burmeister in college.

But it is his future that will impact the youngest of hoop fans on the Island.

Robinson will host a basketball camp at the Community Center at Mercer View from July 29 through Aug. 1.

“A lot of guys who do these camps show up for a couple of hours and leave,” said Robinson. “I will be there the entire time. I love basketball and seeing the upcoming stars.

There is some great basketball on Mercer Island.”

Robinson got to see that great tradition in person during his high school years. His team, the Rainier Beach Vikings played the Islanders during the district tournament twice, including an epic contest at the UW in 2002 that was extremely physical, ending on a controversial foul. Beach won by three points.

“That was a tough district title game,” said Robinson. “We didn’t have film back then. We just knew to guard No. 11 (Burmeister) because he could shoot. It gave us an edge for the state title game because we knew how they played. We jumped on them early.”

Robinson put on a show during the state title game, leaping over Islander forward Kevin Chirls for a put-back bucket. The play catapulted Beach to the championship as the tournament MVP went to Robinson. His Vikings would also win the state title against Issaquah in 2003, and again against a future UW teammate, Hans Gasser.

“We used to tease him about how slow he was, but his mom made the best snickerdoodles,” said Robinson.

Robinson, Burmeister, Gasser and former Mercer Island and UW team manager Brandon Miller were part of a great run for the Huskies, including a sweet 16 berth during the 2006 NCAA tournament.

Robinson started at Beach in football, track and basketball, and followed his father onto the UW football field as a star defensive back, but gave up the sport in favor of basketball.

“I had to pick one or the other,” said Robinson. “Basketball was more of a challenge but I am definitely happy with my decision.”

Robinson was the 21st pick in the 2005 draft by the Pheonix Suns. He was then traded to New York.

“I used to pray that I would get to play in New York,” said Robinson. “The Garden is the best place to play.”

Robinson said it is sad that the Sonics may leave Seattle. He gets a great reception when he comes back home, and he knows what the team means to the area’s youth.

“It is sad,” said Robinson. “I am still a Sonics fan to this day. I never have a good game here, but it is good to come home. It would be devastating if the Sonics leave. Hopefully, the basketball gods will figure it out.”

Robinson hopes that his trip home at the end of July is a time to reunite with friends as well as a chance to teach some young kids the game.

He said he will have some other stars at his camp but could not say for sure. He wants Burmeister, UW coach Lorenzo Romar, Sacramento Kings’ forward Spencer Hawes, Portland Trailblazers’ star Brandon Roy and former MIHS standout Josh Fischer, among others.

Robinson is not new to hosting his own camp. He has one in New York and hopes to organize more.

To make the Mercer Island camp more accessible, Robinson has given 10 scholarships to kids from Rainier Beach and 15 for Island youth through the Community Center.

“I remember going to camps and meeting Gary Payton,” said Robinson. “I want to let kids know that if they put forth the effort, anything is possible.”

For more information or to register for the camp, contact the Community Center at (206) 275-7609.

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