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Nate Robinson wanted to play for the Sonics, but the Thunder is just fine

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: March 30, 2011

Born and raised in Seattle, Nate Robinson dreamed of someday playing for the SuperSonics.

And now he is – sort of.

When politicians from Seattle and the state of Washington tabled a potential vote for public funding toward a new arena in the greater Seattle area, the Sonics' new ownership group from Oklahoma City moved the franchise here in July 2008.

Venom still drips from the mouths of Sonics fans upset about the move, but Robinson said he harbors no ill feelings with what transpired, even before he joined the Thunder roster five weeks ago.

“It's OK,” Robinson said. “The NBA is a business. It would have been sweet if Seattle still had a team so I could have gone home and played in front of the home crowd, but it (relocating) really wasn't Oklahoma City's fault. Things happen.”

Already a Thunder fan favorite despite playing just one game and eight minutes since coming over in the Feb. 24 trade with Boston, Robinson is back on the active roster after having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee March 4. OKC played at Phoenix late Wednesday.

Thunder fans have quickly embraced the 5-foot-9, 180-pound sparkplug, both on the court and around town.

“It's been pretty cool so far,” Robinson said. “Everywhere I go in the city, I've been welcomed. It's been nothing but love. I appreciate it.”

Robinson figures to get limited playing time with the Thunder at best, likely coming in when the team needs an emotional lift or is struggling for points. The end of the bench is not foreign territory to Robinson.

“I've been at places where I didn't play for 14 straight games (November 2009 with the Knicks), which is a whole month,” Robinson said. “I've been in situations where I've had to work my way in. It's no big deal. I'm not trying to step on anybody's toes. If coach plays me, he plays me.”

Once measured with a 43½-inch vertical jump, the 26-year-old Robinson was raised in the Emerald City, where he was a three-sport star in high school and was named state Class 3A Player of the Year in football and basketball as a senior. In track, he set a state prep record in the 110-meter hurdles (13.85 seconds).

Robinson signed with his hometown University of Washington, started six games at defensive back in football as a freshman, later became a two-time, first-team All-Pacific 10 Conference basketball player, declared for the 2005 NBA Draft after his junior season, was picked 21{+s}{+t} overall by the Phoenix Suns and then traded draft night to the New York Knicks.

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