On This Date: Nate Robinson scores 41 points off the bench

January 1, 2010: Nate Robinson scores 41 points off the bench to lead the Knicks to an overtime victory against the Atlanta Hawks

In an appropriate beginning to a new year, Nate Robinson returned from a month-long exile in the doghouse to lead the Knicks to a thrilling overtime victory in Atlanta. Nate scored 41 points on 18-24 from the field and 3-5 from three. He also had 6 rebounds and 8 assists.

Despite a close first half, the Knicks well-patented 3rd quarter of doom led to a 13 point deficit. The Knicks stormed back to tie the game at the end of regulation. The Knicks scored 13 points in OT to get a much-needed victory on the road. After going on an 8-3 run to start the month of December, the team lost 3 of the last 4 games.

Coincidentally, Nate was placed into Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse beginning in December. D’Antoni lost patience with Nate over the previous several weeks beginning with an ill-fated joke to shoot at the wrong basket after the end of the 1st quarter in a road game against the New Jersey Nets:

After that play, he benched Nate for the rest of the game. Even after scoring 22 fourth quarter points in a 114-102 loss against the Magic in MSG, D’Antoni sent Nate to the bench with a DNP ironically against the Magic on the road.

Nate sat on the bench for a month until this game. Despite the victories with Nate glued to the bench, it didn’t make much sense because D’Antoni only employed 7-8 man rotations. It took injuries to both Larry Hughes and Jonathan Bender to finally get Nate back into the rotation on New Year’s day. During Nate’s absence, rookie Toney Douglas received the majority of the point guard minutes off the bench.

During his Knick tenure, Nate Robinson frustrated head coaches, alike, with his decision making on the floor. While Nate was in the doghouse, his agent Aaron Goodwin requested a trade in December 2009.1 D’Antoni quickly grew tired of Nate and was traded – along with Marcus Landry – at the deadline to the Boston Celtics for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, & Bill Walker.



On This Date: Knicks sign Jonathan Bender

December 13, 2009: Knicks sign Jonathan Bender to an NBA contract

Donnie Walsh went into his rolodex to sign former Indiana Pacers forward Jonathan Bender. It was Walsh, himself, who traded Antonio Davis to the Toronto Pacers for the rights to Bender, picked 5th overall in the 1999 Draft.

In a feel-good story, Bender played in 25 games for the Knicks. He scored 20 points in his first two games for the team and later scored a season high 16 points in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. His season was cut short in March with a broken finger and eventually retired for good afterwards.

Lauded for his size, skills, and athleticism, Bender entered his rookie season with expectations mirroring Kevin Garnett & Kobe Bryant. He became the first player drafted out of high school to score in double figures in his NBA debut.  He had the ability to dunk with ferocity, dagger threes without hesitation, and block shots with authority.

Chronic knee injuries forced Bender into early retirement in 2006.  After playing in 78 games during the 2001-02 season, Bender played a combined 76 games in the next 4 seasons.

Bender spent part of his first initial retirement years (2006-09) building homes for families impacted by Hurricane Katrina.  He also continued his rehabilitation and worked on a prototype to a product hat would provide relief to his chronic pain.  The product launched in 2013 as the JB Intensive Trainer.2