As Nate Robinson eyes an NBA comeback, he is opening up about the mental health struggles that were once masked by his high-flying dunks, energetic play and big personality.
"The NBA gave me my depression," Robinson told Bleacher Report in a wide-ranging interview. "I've never been a depressed person in my life."
Robinson said pressure from coaches to take the game more seriously, focus and mature led him to therapy.
"I was trying to change," Robinson told Bleacher Report. "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."
Robinson cited conflicts with coaches Tom Thibodeau and Larry Brown as being particularly burdensome. He told Bleacher Report that while with the New York Knicks, Brown called him "the little s---" every day. After Robinson went to Brown's office in tears and asked him to stop, Brown again called him the name in front of the team and told his teammates that he had cried.
Brown told Bleacher Report that he didn't have any recollection of what Robinson had recounted.
"I don't know what I called him, to be honest with you," Brown said. "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 said he tried to change his habits, but he continued to bounce around the league. He last played in the NBA in 2015-16, followed by stints in the G League, Israel and Venezuela. He will play in the BIG3 and Drew League this summer as he works to return to the NBA.
"I just need a chance," he told Bleacher Report.