For pure absurdity, it's tough to beat an ongoing squabble between two role players over a celebration that involves pretending to put on a championship belt. This is why we love the slow-cooked beef between New York Knicks forward Steve Novak, who's been doing the "Discount Double-Check" made famous by Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the past couple of seasons, and Chicago Bulls guard Nate Robinson, who decided to commandeer the belt-strapping as a taunt during a Bulls win back in January.
After that game, Novak said Robinson's imitation "warms my heart," and that he hoped "when Little Nathan grows up [...] his dreams come true and he can be just like me." Nate, not surprisingly, didn't take too kindly to this, calling Novak a "clown" on Twitter and extending the bit by calling Novak his "favorite player in the whole wide world" during an NBA TV interview.
Things have remained quiet on the Discount Double-Check front for the last few months ... but the feud roared back with a vengeance when the Bulls and Knicks met for the final time this regular season at the United Center on Thursday. With the clock running down in the third quarter and the Bulls in the midst of a 13-3 run, Robinson got a pass in the corner from Richard Hamilton and lofted a shot over the closeout of — you guessed it — Novak:
Oh, snap. Ya burnt, Steve Novak. So burnt.
The celebrating reached a fever pitch midway through the fourth quarter, after Robinson hit a 3-pointer to give the Bulls a seven-point lead in a game they had previously trailed by as many as 17:
So much excitement in such a small package.
To be fair, Robinson had every right to rock a make-believe belt on Thursday. With the Bulls once again missing All-Star center Joakim Noah and top reserve big Taj Gibson, and with star forward Luol Deng somewhat limited in his return from two games on the shelf with a hip injury, Robinson carried Chicago's offense, scoring a team-high 35 points — 18 of which came in the fourth quarter and overtime — on 10 for 18 shooting (including 5 for 11 from 3-point range) to push the Bulls to a 118-111 win over New York.
Not only did the win snap the Knicks' 13-game winning streak and finish off a 4-0 season sweep of the East's No. 2 seed, but it also pushed the Bulls a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for fifth place in the East ... so, yeah, there were quite a number of reasons for Nate to feel all belt-y. The main one, though, was obviously that Nate was going off while Novak (scoreless in 12 1/2 minutes off the Knicks' bench) was very much not — a fact that Robinson wanted to make sure New York understood clearly, according to Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com:
When asked why he decided to mimic the move multiple times throughout the game, Robinson confidently responded, "You've just got to let them know what's up."
And really, there aren't many NBA players who enjoy letting you know what's up more than Nate Robinson. Just ask Raymond Felton, who joined Novak in receiving an added bit of emphasis from Robinson after a big play — Nate also had some less-than-kind words after swatting the Knicks point guard's shot in the fourth quarter:
"He's constant entertainment," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said of Robinson, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
And these days, he's also pretty much constant offense — over his last 10 games, Robinson is averaging 20 points and 4.2 assists per contest, shooting 46.9 percent from the floor and 45.5 percent from 3-point land, and playing integral roles in wins over the Knicks, potential first-round opponent Brooklyn Nets and top overall seed Miami Heat. Yes, he's loud and brash, but hey — if the belt fits, wear it with pride, Little Nathan.