"The NBA gave me my depression," says Nate Robinson
"The NBA gave me my depression," said Robinson in an interview with Bleacher Report. "I've never been a depressed person in my life."
Robinson, who played for eight teams across his 11 seasons in the league, said coaches were constantly asking him to tone down his fun-loving personality, which caused him to question himself among other things.
"I was trying to change," Robinson said. "Nobody would ever know the real struggles that I had to fight to try to be somebody that I wasn't. ... That was the hardest thing in my career. Not basketball, not working out. Not my children.
"But the hardest thing in my whole life, of my 34 years in existence on earth, was dealing with 11 years in the NBA of trying to be somebody that [NBA coaches] want me to be."
In the interview, Robinson specifically singles out Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. While with the Knicks, Robinson, who is listed at 5-foot-9, said Brown referred to him as "the little." Robinson said he pleaded with Brown, in tears, to stop demeaning him with the nickname; Brown responded shortly after by calling him the name again in front of the team and sharing with everyone that Robinson had cried about it.
"I don't have any recollection," Brown said in response to the allegations. "I don't, I don't know ... I don't know what I called him, to be honest with you. If I did that, shame on me. I would feel terrible about that. That's not who I am, but I don't want to dispute Nate."
Robinson also said tensions between him and coach Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls were escalating behind the scenes.
Last season, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his bouts with depression and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love wrote about his experience with panic attacks and anxiety. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue discussed before the start of the NBA Finals his absence from the bench, which was caused in part by anxiety.
In part to address the issue, the National Basketball Players Association appointed its first director of mental health and wellness in May.
Robinson believes current NBA players are held to different standards from when he was in the league. The former three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion has his eyes set on an NBA comeback, having spent the last several years since his last game in 2015 playing in the G League, Israel and Venezuela.
"I just need a chance," said Robinson, who will play in the BIG3 and Drew League this summer.
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