¡La Mejor Salsa del Mundo Es el Hambre!

This above title has a roughened meaning of "Hunger is the best sauce in the world." And in our valiant victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, novice player Jeff Pendergraph was famished!

He leapt and collided like El Chacho at a buffet. Best of all was when Jeff set a pick so stalwart, Al Thornton hit him and foundered like a ship washed against the Rock of Gibraltar!

And then Jeff dunked. ¡Pum!

Foto from the Oregonian.


Of the Toughness

To be sure, these days have been difficult for myself and all of my mates. But as you Americans say, when the tough gets going, that going becomes even tougher.

And as a Mallorcan, I have been forged in the heat of this toughness! It was on that sun-kissed island that I perceived the following while lounging on the beach. A beggar with his hands out had slogged through the hot sand to approach a grandmother.

“Please, señora,” the poor man pleaded. “I haven't eaten all day.”

“Good,” said the grandmother. “Now you won't have to worry about cramps when you go for a swim.”


Rudy foto from the Oregonian.


Of Alley-Oops and Enchantments

And so another warrior falls beneath the scythe. With Joel Pryzbilla now out for the season, the ineluctable question is “Why has Fate singled out the Trail Blazers for its direst attentions?

Perhaps there is no reason, and the die was cast in ages past, when Greg Oden was a mere youth. This reminds me of how justice was administered in Spain back in Franco’s day. The tale is told of the judge sitting in his blackened robe. Before him, the defense lawyer and persecutor prepare their opening remarks.

The judge then gestures to the bailiff:

Bring in the guilty man.

You may well ask what I have done during my forced inactivities. Oh, I balked and chafed at the restrictions placed upon me! And so I had to add anti-chafing balm to my medications.

More happily, I plunged myself into the readings of books for full days and nights. My mind has been filled with alley-oops and enchantments, with quarrels, battles, challenges, wounds, wooings, loves, tempests, and impossible follies.

And so I now seek to return to the parquets to seek adventure and practice the qualities of a native Spaniard: To right wrongs, to be a boon to my mates, to seek eternal renown… and perhaps to enjoy some tapas before plunging into battle again!

Or, in the pithy words of the estimable Yao Ming: “Again I reprove that Tauren warrior.”


A Very Catalonian Christmas

As my mates journey abroad, let me share with you about Spanish traditions of the yule’s tide. Por ejemplo, do you know the character of El Caganer (“the great pooper”)? In northeastern Spain, figurines like this one date back to the 1600s and are considered symbols of the greatest healthiness.

Thus, these traditional statues of El Caganer evacuating his bowels are a common sight in Catalonia. Recent figurines include the celebrity, such as my friend Rafael Nadal, or figures such as Dali and Queen Elizabeth.

I know these must seem an oddity to North Americans. But we Spaniards do not count ourselves among the scatalogically prissy!

Before dining, Catalans sometimes say, ¡Menjar bé, i caga fort, i no tinguess por de la mort! (“Eat well, poop strong, and you will have no fear of death!”) And the two rivers that once bordered Barcelona (Catalonia’s capital) were called Merdanca (poop stream) and the Cagallel (turd carrier).

In this Christmas season, Catalan kids play a game searching for the Caganer, who is hidden somewhere in the Nativity arrangement. It is akin to “Where’s Waldo?”, yet with a marked difference.

Ah, the festivities! Now is the time for bakeries to peddle pastries shaped like fecal deposits. And a hollow log known as the Cagatió (“poop log”) packed with gifts. Children beat on the Cagatió with sticks and all sing a song to persuade it to yield its gifts.

Caga tió (Poop log)

tió de Nadal (log of Christmas)

no caguis arengades (don’t poop salty fish)

que són salads. (which are not good.)

¡Caga torrons (Poop almond candies)

que son mes bons! (which are much better!)

El Caganer figurines from Caganer.com,

Cagatió from My Dutch Fairy Tale.


Derrick Rose and the Breakers of the Wind

As stated, my initial notion was that Derrick Rose's public imaging might lack a certain originality. But these breakers of the wind that Rose sports are not without a certain appeal!
Foto shoot from GQ.

A Dearth of Funk

Once again beneath my heels I feel Rocinante’s ribs. I take to the road with my shield held high.” From Che Guevara’s final letter to his parents.
During my brief confinement following the surgery of the back, my mind voyaged afar. I thought of Miguel de Cervantes penning Don Quixote while imprisoned in a Seville jail. There, Cervantes battled doldrums by confining his altered ego Quixote within chivalric madness and silly armor.

Bedridden, I fought battles and built castles in my mind. Descending into a momentary funkiness, I even donned a threadbare bathrobe that Sergio would find amusing. To battle this unseemly inactivity, I allowed my stubbling to flourish into a valiant neo-beard (or “pudding trap” as Greg Oden calls it).

It has served me well.

But now I face the future with relief from my back and a dearth of funk in my heart. For to be otherwise would prove as false to my Mallorcan heritage as this youth’s stubble is to his face. ¡Ad astra!

Rudy foto by Ben Golliver of BlazersEdge.


Rudy Undergoes Surgery

Rudy went through a surgery in the Portland area today called a "microdiscectomy." It's intended to reduce pressure on the spinal nerve that is causing pain in Rudy's right leg. (A wealth of information regarding the procedure can be found at BlazersEdge.)

The staff here join all of Rudy's fans in sincerely wishing him a successful operation and healthy recovery.


The Blush Should Be on This Rose

In the mists of the not-far distant past, we were crushed by the Golden State Warriors... this, despite the factoid that they outfitted a mere eight players for the match!

Along with you, I dismissed this as an event of freakish nature. Yet since then, our misfortunes have mounted, dismounted, gathered feedbags, and then galloped off again, and I feel that a reign of unreality has usurped my senses.

Last año, we Trail Blazers were a powerful team in our home pavilion. Excepting the topsy-curviness of the playoffs, the Rose Garden was a bastion of our greatest strengths and most artful lay-ups.

No longer!

And now, other mobs of anarchy storm our shattered ramparts. For I see that Derrick Rose has been deemed by the Victoria’s Secret as “Chicago’s sexiest athlete." (Listen carefully: Those flopping sounds you hear are Joakim Noah and Patrick Sharp convulsing in jealousy.)

To be sure, the notion of basketball player as elongated beefcake is nothing new.

But the light heart (and low mind) behind Derrick Rose’s award is most derivative. Let me simply say that the jersey work of an enterprising Blazers fan last season is award enough for me! In fact, perhaps my Mallorcan concupiscence should be administered into our starting line-up... it might be the changing of the off-guard that we need!

Adición: To cap to the week's confusions, I viewed an American-style "football" game Thursday. It pitted two local universities against each other in what is known as the "Civil War."

I was taken aback by this moniker; as a Spaniard, you can imagine the dim view I have of such conflicts. But luckily, there were no Falangists in the arena, only fans clad in orange or green.

As to the match, I have no notion of what happened... but it was all very exciting!

Nic Batum from the Oregonian, Derrick Rose foto from here, Kareem Abdul Jabbar from SI Vault, Rudy’s jersey by Ben Golliver, Rudy at Autzen from draker.


"¿Cómo Se Cuelgan?" (or "How's It Hanging?")

The query is posed: Why have we lost all three of our recent matches? There is no easy answer. But it is my belief that every basketball competitor is as Heaven made him… and sometimes a great deal worse.

On to a lighter topic: Before each match, my mates and I greet each other in a friendly manner. So prior to our contest against Miami, the conviviacious Jeff Pendergraph called out to me, “Rudy! How’s it hanging?

His reference was both alarming and clear. But I answered in good faith! “In briefs, scientists believe testículos descend for temperature reasons related to the fertility. Their hanging nature prevents the unwished-for activation of esperma by keeping the temperature of our nutmegs different from the body.”

But from Jeff’s crestfallen aspect, I could see this was not the hoped-for response.

Luckily, Greg Oden intervened. “The question is not ‘Why’s it hanging,’ Spaniard. It is ‘How’s it hanging.’”

A revelation! Well in that event, it appears to be hanging in a normal fashion, and I thank you for the concern. (Even so, I wonder: What manner of pathological curiousity leads to such inquisitions?)

Rudy foto from Rudyfans, Star Wars from ricko.


A Phone Call from Sacramento

Sergio: ¡Hola, Rudy!

Me: ¡El Chacho! ¿Que pasa, mi amigo?

Sergio: I merely wished to check in with you. Long time, no alley oop!

Me: ¡Naturalamente! So this has nothing to do with your match last evening?

Sergio: I don’t know which match you mean—

Me: The one in which you had 24 points, five assists, and two steals in 24 minutes?

Sergio: Ah, THAT match. Yes, fortune indeed smiled upon me. But you forgot something.

Me: Nonsense!

Sergio: No turnovers! Further, at this juncture, only Chris Paul and Steve Nash outstrip me as the NBA's top point guards!

Me: ¡Felicidades! Ah, but wait… I smell something…

Sergio: Are you cooking pollo?

Me: No. But I detect the odor of a most unsavory gloating wafting up from south of Portland!

Sergio: Ha ha! But there is no need to be churlish, Machetero! Now let me tell you about a particular alley oop. At one point, I took a knee at the three-point line and threw a behind-the-back pass to the rim—

Me: Please! Speak no further of making spectacular passes at your mates, for I am consumed with envy! Last year, 103% of my alley oops emanated from your able Canary Islander fingertips. And this year, I am below the poverty line for alley oops-ing.

Sergio: Forgive my insensitivities! It must be difficult to be paired with mates who are not as sympatico to your needs as a fellow countryman. And so, onwards to happier topics! Let me tell you more about the charming pavilion in which our matches transpire. It is called Arco Arena and…[end transcript]

Sergio foto from Sactown Royalty.


Things I Would Do in Lieu of Losing Two Matches in a Row by an Unseemly Margin

1.) Quaff lye.

2.) Don Steve Blake’s apparel for a fortnight.

3.) Pose with Ricky Rubio on his eponymous website.

I am no expert at losing! But observing my mates, I conclude that the figure of Loss guts ALL the varieties of fish that come to his net. He counts among his prey both rookies and graybeards, both the diminutive antipodean (Patty Mills) and the indigent Goliath (Greg Oden).

He is not queasy-stomached; Loss swallows without chewing, cramming unspectacular guard play and weak-chinned defense into his ungracious maw. Loss thirsts after our victories, and drinks them down like mother’s milk.

In short, Loss is most horrible!

Enmienda: I must amend a previous statement. I would rather encounter Loss than appear as a model on Ricky's website. Such a photo-shoot would represent a fashion Loss even more grievous than the indignities we have suffered on the parquet. (The mascara, mi Dios, the mascara!)


Errores Artística

Did you know? I enjoy painting! My palette is usually derived from an unusual list of ingredients which includes dyes wrung from espresso grounds, opponents’ tears, turnip greens, axle grease, the leaves of the Oregon grape, boiled jimson weed, burnt matchsticks, crushed spirits, pine sap, and the sodden red crepe paper streamers that are left over after home victories.

And when these hues fail me, I just use the leftover house paints that I found abandoned in Sergio Rodruguez’s garage.

But during our recent match against the Chicago Bulls, I committed an unusual artistic mistake. Seeing the opportunity for a most dastardly assist, I whipped the ball in an unexpected way towards the basket.

But it was then that Luol Deng’s visage intervened! A facial ricochet! The ball bounced off Deng’s features with a fearful thudding! Everyone in the pavilion quailed or cheered, depending on their dispositions as Deng took on a reddened, swollen aspect. It was not a hue I meant to choose, but ¿qué podía decirle?

Rudy foto from rudy5.net, tweet from Pdxtrailblazers.


A Note to Corey Brewer

For the final time: I do not have any spare coinage (euros or otherwise) upon my person.


The Mantle That Covers Human Thought

As is known, Andre Miller is an active streaker. But as his streak is not dermatological, it is unapparent to even the most astute observer. That is to say, he has played in over 540 straight NBA games without failing.

What is his secret? As the point guard is a taciturn fellow, his few words on any matter are magnified in meaning. (Inversely, this explains why my mates cheerfully ignore Martell Webster’s monologues.)

Spying Andre being interviewed on his capabilities, I had two hopes. One was to hear how he does it. The other was to hear Andre intone “I am Iron Man” in a deep, robotic voice.

Sneaking closer, I dropped from the eaves to listen in… only to find that Andre attributes his successes to multiple naps! As a Spaniard, you can imagine my pleasures at this. I come from a culture that was founded on naps and built from dreams!

Thus enthused, I interrupted the interviews proceedings.

“Blessings on him who invented sleep, the mantle that covers all human thoughts, the common currency that buys all things, the balance and weight that equalises the point guard and the power forward, the simpleton and the sage,” I recited.

The Iron Man and the reporter looked at me without expression.

After a moment, Andre turned to the journalist and said, “Plus I don’t eat barbeque.”

Miller foto from the AP, Rudy from origen desconocido.


A Catch-and-Shoot-22

I am a child of the mean sands of Palma de Mallorca.

I point out this obviousness for a reason. It seems that even now, opponents and journalists are sometimes unaware that my lanky frame belies a coiled steel within! This steel was forged years ago in the languid heats of my home island.

Because Palma de Mallorca is Europe’s playground destination, its grittiness, like mine, is also frequently misunderestimated. But rest assured, mi amigo, semi-hardened criminals have been known to lurk in the few locations on the island that are not kissed by the sun.

Per ejemplo, as a teenager, my mates and I once returned to my home from a mid-day outing at the beach only to find a thief going through my family’s belongings. Given our numbers, the rascal had no chance of making the escape! Judging from his shamed countenance and excellent clothing choices, I decided to give him a choice: the police or a three-point shooting contest with me.

To my infinite delight, the thief chose the latter. So we escorted him to the local parquet, and minutes later, his wails could be heard throughout the community.

Police! I want the police!
Rudy foto from the Oregonian.


A Farewell to Legs

On the Blazers, five of my mates begin each match. Then, as time passes, these players are replaced by the so-called “bench-mates.” And I count myself proudly among them. We bench-mates are here to provide sparks off the bench. How is this accomplished? With static-generating shorts! As we leap into action, sparks fly and fans swoon.

But sadly, in our recent Charlotte match, two of my bench-mates fell victim to the injury. Travis Outlaw suffered a broken foot bone while busting a routine move. And in a manner most bizarre, Jerryd Bayless tripped over a hump in a hallway carpet and nearly killed himself!

His bellows of pain filled the coliseum, and I had to assist him to assistance. This was no easy matter; Jerryd is a most dense 200 pounds (195 without his cologne). How to explain such a sad conjunction of misfortunes in Charlotte?

It was almost as if Travis and Jerryd were being manipulated by some barely-glimpsed and malevolent puppeteer. Ah, but surely such a notion is ludicrous!

Top Bayless foto from Blaze of Love, Larry Brown from the SI Vault.



In our recent match, I thought I hit the jackpocket. Not only did the fearful Ukrainian Oleksiy Pecherov barely take part in the game, but I filled my in-boxes with 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, and 3 thefts of the basketball from the opposition. (I lead all bench players in the latter category.)

And even so, I feel as though I have been knocked senseless and left out to dry! I refer not to my minutes but to the misdeed perpetuated at the blog site known as Ladies… Its “Hump Day Hotties” posting was dedicated to the Portland Trail Blazers. Who would reign supreme as el hombre más caliente? It is a surprise! While beefcake-on-a-fashion plate subjects like Jerryd Bayless and myself are alluded to, the focus of Hump Day Hottieness is…

Steve Blake?

Like Zach Randolph suddenly jabbing his thumb in my cornea, I did not see that coming! Yet though I am slighted, I offer Ladies… the instructive words of Miguel de Cervantes in the best spirit:

A private sin is not so prejudicial in this world, as a public indecency.”
Rudy foto from BlazersEdge.


Horror on the Parquet

It is no secret matter that there is talk of trash on the NBA courts. Yet our recent game against the Minnesota Timberwolves yielded a diabolical new spin on this hoary strategy. As I entered the match, I could see the lanky forward Oleksiy Pecherov up close for the first time. And such a sight! His skin was pale, his eyes red-rimmed, his manner feral. During a break in the action, I was surprised to find the lengthy Ukrainian speaking to me in fluent (if heavily accented) Spanish.

“You radiate exuberance!” he said. Taken aback, I could only stare at Pecherov. His pallor was most alarming! “I say this in a complimentary sense,” he continued. “No doubt the blood flowing in your veins is devilishly exuberant!”

For a horrible moment, Pecherov sniffed the air like some unholy and hairless hound. “As I thought. Your blood smells like the sweetest perfume,” he concluded with a dark whisper, then darting off to snare an in-bounds pass.

Shaken by the exchange, I added three turnovers to my otherwise respectable estadísticas. And despite our victory, all I could think of in the locker chamber after the match were Pecherov’s burning eyes.

“Spaniard!” Greg Oden intoned, gesturing to me. “I have three words to speak to you.” He drew me in closer yet, looked over my shoulder, and said quietly, “Beware the upior.”

And with that, Greg reached out a massive ebon hand to deposit in my palm a bottle of pills… containing garlic extract.
Top foto from BlazersEdge.


Iberian Marmots and Football Vixens Pave Paths to Victory

Did you know? The kingdom of animals can yield helpful sports perspectives! Per ejemplo, when the Iberian marmot finds itself backed into a corner, it does not concern itself with niceties. Nor is the fear of a non-unsportsmanlike technical on its mind. Rather, the fearsome rodent is prepared to lash out in any fashion that will ensure its survival!

With our current losing record, my mates and I can take inspirations from the marmot. And in the games ahead, we should attempt to apply what Joel Pryzbilla describes as "an old-fashioned butt cooking." (Ah, these zesty American idioms!)

Perhaps we may also take a page from this impressive football player de Nuevo México. She does not intend to be vanquished without a struggle... and may the rules be exiled to perdition!

Foto from PortAventura.


Going Out for Groserías

“The forbidden words boil up in us…When they finally burst out, they do so harshly, brutally, in the form of a shout, a challenge, an offense. They are projectiles or knives. They cause wounds.” Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude
Spaniards and Mexicans share many traits. Both groupings are known for their gracious manners… and sulphurous oaths! In Mexico, the cursing words are called “groserías.” They range from imprecations of mildness (güey = stupid) to affectionately salty (cabrones = bastards), to the most harsh wacknesses (pinche ladrón = damned criminal).

My mates and I directed many of these wounding groserías at the Atlanta Hawks (and between ourselves!) in a frustrating defeat last evening. In fact, assuming that there are a finite number of groserías in the universe, their number is now vastly diminished.

Yet the Hawks seemed oblivious to our epithets, and ran the score up unchecked. How is it that our oaths missed their marks as frequently as my three-point attempts? Do we need to shop for new groserías? (Oh, my back.)

The answer, for now, remains hidden beneath ZaZa Pachulia’s enigmatic teflon-chic.

Rudy foto from the Oregonian.


Semi-True Confessions

To win last night in Oklahoma City was good, as it evened our record at 2-2. But why is the soil of our start so rocky? Matchups may be partially blamed. For instance, have you ever seen Steve Blake’s sock and sweater combinations? They are enough to put an Estonian off his lunch.

And now to my confession: Even with our inauspicious beginning, I do not mind a defeat as much as my mates. The reason why stems from my childhood:

The old fisherman gathering his nets in from the lapping waters of the Mediterranean turned to me. His resemblance to George Karl was uncanny! And when he spoke, there on the shores of Palma de Mallorca, his words were of a resounding nature. “The most exciting thing in life is winning a knife fight. But the next most exciting thing is losing a knife fight.”

I trust this explains my view adequately!
Rudy foto from the Oregonian,
Karl from Ball Don't Lie.


But Does It Have a Good "Pollo y Tapas" Recipe?

This fine volume has even intrigued the good peoples of Ball Don't Lie!

Questionable Questionings of Manhood

Within my knowings, every male professional basketball player is un hombre de verdad: A real man. That is, if testosterone were alcohol, we’d all be over the legal limit. Even “nice fellows” like the Trail Blazers are, to a hombre, proud, competitive, and dripping in masculinity.

And of this group, Joel Pryzbilla is our king. Which is why I had to disbelieve my ears during last night's unfortunate loss to the Nuggets. As I stood near the sidelines and overheard this reedy announcer chirp about how Pryzbilla needed to “take a charge like a man.” ¿En serio? No one is MORE skilled at taking a charge (and the other manly arts) than Joel!

But perhaps this Reggie Miller has a very different definition of what a true male is. (This restraining order he obtained to avoid fisticuffs with a silver-spooning surfer suggests as much!)
Pryzbilla foto from the Oregonian


Hawks Embrace Their Young

After our season-opening victory over the Houston Rockets, Greg Oden gestured for me to approach his locker.

Smiling, Greg showed me a site on his laptop and declaimed, “Season your admiration for a while, Spaniard, and listen with an attentive ear so that I may deliver this marvel to you. Behold, the poetry of Rashad McCants!”

Rashad McCants? I had detected no hints that the erstwhile Rocket was a man of letters in our previous matches. But his haughty on-court demeanor masks a poetic soul! For these are the lines he wrote in homage of a fellow player whom he has greatest admirations for:

He came to me with open arms, like a hawk embracing his young,

and he fed me food out his mouth but I was starving for knowledge.

the type of knowledge that can’t be fed by hand or voice, but by heart.

so when he spoke he touched my soul, and my soul would smack me if I didn’t listen the words he spoke weren’t for the ears to hear.

because his words were real, it’s hard to hear the truth when lies are so loud.

I put my earphones on so I can hear nothing and see everything.

lies could never steal my attention when he…he…spoke.

The eyes never lie

and when he spoke he wore no glasses

he wanted me to see the truth, which was?

that everyone wears glasses to protect lies, truth? glasses? lies? 
sounds like earth, sounds like humans, sounds like America.
 but if that’s so where is he from?

not from here, he has no glasses!
 there was an aura, a light, a truth, about him.

special? never. different? maybe. human? impossible.

so I asked him one question to expect one answer.

when you walk and talk and teach how come everyone can stare at your light, your aura, your truth?

because we are the same.

Can you guess the desired object of McCants' sentiments? No, not Khloe Kardashian, his one-time paramour and current spouse of Lamar Odom (above). Rather, McCants was speaking of Kevin Garnett!

Greg Oden foto from his selfsame blog.