I t was the twelfth game of the season, a dreary Monday night affair in November, the Garden a third empty. The Knicks, a paltry 4-7 for the year so far, were trailing the Houston Rockets 65-60 late in the third quarter. Yao Ming, the Rockets’ seven-foot-six center—that’s seven foot, six—got the ball to the left of the basket and went up for a layup. Then, Nate Robinson, the Knicks’ five-eight point guard—that’s five foot, eight—elevated and blocked Yao’s shot. From a standing start. For a moment, the roar at the Garden recalled the halcyon days of Frazier and Reed. Then the moment passed, the Knicks folded, and the slog toward another 50-loss season resumed. Let’s face it: The 2006–07 Knicks are a three-ring circus. Only the ringmaster is a lifetime .500 coach currently on a short, win-or-go-home leash, most of the performers are better suited to a back-roads carnival than to the big top, and almost no one—not ladies or gentlemen, not children of any ages—is smiling. Fortunately, the Knicks have a lovable midget of a sideshow in Nate Robinson. Just seeing Robinson on the court, a David among a gaggle of Goliaths, is entertaining. It’s like looking at those old American Express ads with Wilt Chamberlain standing next to Willie Shoemaker, only Robinson doesn’t get paid to be tiny and ride on a horse’s back; he gets paid to play pro basketball with the world’s most athletic pituitary cases. Sure, Robinson’s as likely to try to make a monster dunk by bouncing the ball off the floor or backboard (he’s tried and failed twice) as he is to have an assist (he averages just 1.5 a game). But that misses the point: He’s five-eight, and he can dunk! In the end, that’s why Knick fans love him. That and the fact that he’s shorter than they are.