During the Miami Heat‘s entire playoff run, one of the most-discussed topics was Duncan Robinson‘s lack of playing time. The sharpshooter, who the Heat signed to a five-year, $90 million contract last summer, recorded zero minutes during the team’s 100-96 Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics.
Robinson was benched for a total of 13 games throughout the Heat’s playoff journey, which left NBA analysts across the league absolutely puzzled, especially amid the stretch of spells when Miami’s three-point shooting was atrocious. Through the adversity, the 28-year-old undrafted forward remained professional, never publicly complaining about his role getting reduced to nothing.
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However, Robinson released a new clip from his The Long Shot podcast on Tuesday, June 7, which he co-hosts with best friend, Del Reid, and went off about how he felt while riding the bench.
“Whether you’re playing JV basketball… middle school basketball… college basketball… if you’re playing in the NBA at the highest level, not playing sucks, especially when you feel that you are capable and you feel that you can help win,” Robinson says. “It’s a really challenging feeling to combat especially when you’re on the cusp and in the midst of a run where your team is playing really well.
“It’s this really challenging mix of emotions of excitement because you sacrificed so much to the team and in your own personal life to be in this situation. But you also understand that with that sacrifice comes an expectation… that, and I don’t need to be the center of it all…but just wanting to feel like you have a role where you’re contributing to winning.”
Robinson Says Having Played in the Finals Before Made Getting Benched ‘Even Worse’
While Robison says that he’s “super appreciative and grateful to be part of the experience” of making it within one game of reaching the NBA Finals, that the journey was also bittersweet.
After starting 68 of the 79 games he appeared in during the regular season, then getting taken out of the rotation entirely during the playoffs, was a “big, big learning experience that I won’t soon forget,” he says.
“It’s a situation from a personal standpoint, that I don’t want to be in again,” Robinson says, and that he’ll “do my due diligence to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After Reid points out that Robinson’s whole basketball career has been a “rollercoaster” of ups and downs, he asks if that experience made the battle of getting benched “any easier” to which the Heat forward says no.
“It doesn’t make it easier, it makes it familiar, that it’s not necessarily uncharted territory.” However, Robinson is going to use the experience as motivation:
What I tried to do, and not saying that I was always perfect in doing so, but I’m proud of how I handled the ‘adversity’ — mind you, once again, I’ve said this before, this is basketball adversity which is all relative in the grand scheme of many things – so maintaining that perspective, one, first and foremost, I think is important, but then just understand that some of what’s happening is outside of my control. What I can control, is how I respond to it.
Pat Riley Sent a Strong Message to Robinson During His End-of-Season Press Conference
Heat president Pat Riley, a.k.a. “The Godfather” addressed Robinson’s situation during his annual end-of-the-year press conference on Monday, June 6. Riley made it clear that if Robinson wants back in the rotation, he has to step up his game as a two-way player:
Defensively, as a young player, he’s got to get better. We hang our hat on that. I’m not going to say that we lost a game because we had some horrendous three-point shooting games, or someone missed a three or whatever it is. If you don’t guard all three areas of the court, if you don’t guard the three-point line, if you don’t guard two-point shots, if you don’t guard at the elbow, if you don’t guard at the rim, if you don’t guard in transition. If you don’t defend by rebounding, by taking charges and getting loose balls and winning that war every night, then you’re always going to blame it on shooting. To me, yes Duncan can improve. That message has been delivered to him. But that’s where we as a team have to win. We have to win defensively.