The return of Nate Robinson means it’s time for camp

Nate Robinson, a member of the Boston Celtics, will host his annual basketball camp on Mercer Island at the end of the month. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Nate Robinson, a member of the Boston Celtics, will host his annual basketball camp on Mercer Island at the end of the month.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

It has been a long year for Nate Robinson. After the former Rainier Beach basketball player was traded to the Boston Celtics from the New York Knicks in February, he helped the team make a successful playoff run, making the NBA finals, where they eventually lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.

All that extra playing meant he’s late getting back to his hometown, but not late enough to miss his basketball camp on Mercer Island.

The Nate Robinson Basketball camp, held at the Community Center at Mercer View, runs from July 27-30. In its third year on the Island, the camp helps kids learn the ins and outs of the game from someone who not only used to play here, but is now a professional.

“We’re there to have fun and learn about basketball,” he said. “It’s not just skills and drills.” Robinson said the camp is a success because the kids and parents keep coming back and he dedicates his time to the camp. The point guard doesn’t just show up on opening day and then stop by occasionally; he’s a coach throughout the whole camp and is very hands-on in the process.

“The number one thing is to have fun because without fun, sometimes basketball can be boring,” he said of his goals for the kids at the camp. “Secondly, it’s about discipline and knowing what kind of player you are going to be. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will.”

Robinson said his camps are important to him because he distinctly remembers attending this type of camp and meeting Gary Payton.

“I wanted to get involved and give back to the community,” he said. “I wanted to show the tips and traits that I’ve learned along the road.”

Robinson said if there is one thing that campers take away from the week working on skills and playing the game, he hopes that it is the best camp they’ve ever been too.

“I hope they take everything forward in their life and basketball,” he said.

Robinson has plenty of experience in those life lessons, especially the basketball ones, after years of playing the game. He distinctly remembers coming to Mercer Island as a high school player and taking on the Islanders as a member of the Rainier Beach team.

“They were so precise in what they did,” he said of the Islanders basketball team, then coached by Ed Pepple. “They had so much discipline. Just the way they played as a team, we could do the same thing, but in a different way.”

Now playing for the Celtics, Robinson faced the challenge of trying to gel with a new team which had already spent most of the season together.

“The trade was different,” he said of the switch in February. “It was fun, but it was a challenge going onto an established team. I had to win them over with my heart and make them believe in you. I went into it with open arms.”

The philosophy paid off as the Celtics made the NBA finals, and Robinson was able to make key contributions in game six, helping to force a final game of the series.

Finally back in town after a longer than usual season, Robinson said he’ll be making some calls to see who can stop by the camp as a special guest. While he wasn’t ready to say who was going to be attending — because he wants the kids to be surprised — he expected at least a couple of friends to make an appearance. But no matter who walks into the gym at the Community Center, the week is about learning the game and learning to enjoy it.

“Come be a sponge and bring your thinking cap,” said Robinson.

For more information on the camp and to register, call the Mercer Island Parks and Recreation Department at 275-7609.

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