I was in Los Angeles last weekend for the wedding of my best friend. Beautiful Saturday: good food, good booze, great people. The whole thing was perfect. There were a handful of kids at the party–boys, maybe 7 to 10 years old, rambunctious, bored sick by formality–who were the nephews and cousins of my old pal’s now-wife. These guys loved basketball. They were all Knicks fans, I think, and one of them collected basketball shoes like they were baseball cards. He had pictures on his dad’s phone of him standing in front of a tower of sneaks, face gripped with the sort of joy you lose touch with once you pass into your teens. Nice kids, if a little over wild.
So, in the runup to the ceremony itself, these bored/rambunctious/hoops-crazed little guys are running around the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton of Marina del Rey, the wedding venue, looking for trouble. They found it. As it happens, the Nuggets were playing the Lakers in Los Angeles that coming Monday and the team was staying there. And one of the kids ran smack into the newest Nugget: Nate Robinson.
The little guys ask if they can take their picture with Nate–who they all recognize and revere, I imagine in the way I loved Muggsy Bogues when I was their size–and he says yeah, sure, why not. Then Nate grabs a picture himself with the kids and they run, giggling like lunatics, back to area where the ceremony is about to kick off. One of the kids grabbed my pant leg and, breathless, told me about it.
About an hour later–Alex, my pal, now safely married–the same kid runs up to me, tugs the same pant leg, and belts this:
“NATE ROBINSON POSTED THE PICTURE ON HIS INSTAGRAM!”
Dad’s phone in hand, he offered proof. Nate Robinson had, in fact, posted the picture on his Instagram account. The kids are, at this point, positively radiating crazy little kid energy. Euphoria. They’re overwhelmed by what’s happening. Nate Robinson likes us. They were so pumped, so ecstatic that their parents were starting to get nervous.
The night glides on. I’m dancing, and drinking, and somewhere in there I gave a speech, and then it’s like a bomb goes off. This happened:
“IT WENT VIRAL!”
“10,000 LIKES IN AN HOUR!”
The kids were bouncing around the room like religious ecstatics at the apogee of some rain dance. They were about as happy, as full of joy, as people are capable of being. Their cups runneth over. Because of Nate Robinson. It was really nice.
So the moral of the story, if there is one, I suppose is probably this: some guys, when lucky enough to get a taste of fame, use it to chase women, drive ostentatiously expensive cars, and buy restaurants. Some guys do all that stuff and still, once in a while, make a kid’s weekend. Good on you, Nate Robinson. I’ll be pulling for you this season.
And Alex and Jill, I’ll be pulling for you guys too.