Days of Media, Nights of Melancholy

On-line. Radio. TV. Commercials. Interviews. From dawn to the dusking, Media Day concerns itself with words, words, words. And just when I thought it was time to go, a stony-faced Blazers official guided me to a computer terminal.

“Tweet,” he commanded.

This is the tyranny of Media Day. (Below, my answerings to nearly audible queries.)


The Trophies and Hematomas of Outrageous Fortune

My chosen sport of endeavor is one filled with countless bumps, jostlings, pats, and hematomas. And that is only to list the injuries committed by my mates!

Per ejemplo
, view the fate that awaits me after a triumphant return to the bench during our Eurobasket match against Greece:
And even now, my days are a study in contrasts. After winning the Eurobasket championship (and being named to the All-Tournament team), I ascended the pinnacle of sports ecstasy in both Poland and Spain.

And now I return to Portland for… training camp.

Another interesting spectacle has taken place around the masculine stylings of players both European and North American. The question has been posed: When it comes to slicing the beefcake, who IS Mr. Eurobasket? My candidacy is mentioned in the same breathiness as Lithuania’s Robertas Javtokas, Turkey’s Engin Atsür, and Greece’s Nikos Zisis.

And it seems that actress Elizabeth Banks gives me her vote, which is a matter of some encouragement, provided we never meet.
You see, Cristina is most unamused by this.)

Sadly, there are other players who have tried to venture their way into my concupiscent domain.
It does not require an expert eye to see their lack of ease, in contrast to the relaxed elegance I wear so easily.

One player is capable of rivalling me. But as he has most unwisely forsworn his moustache, I can safely state: "There can be only one! (And I am he. And him.)"
Rudy fotos from FIBA/the Big Lead,
Elizabeth Banks from Geekshow,
Pau Gasol and Adam Morrison from HailMaryJane (!).


Hellenic Semi-Finality

Poland may be far from my home, yet it is now a locale of comfort. When I jump onto the court, I am noted by the many Spaniards and they shout my name. It is as if I were in Portland's hallowed Rose Garden. This inspires me to play minutes and to leave things on the court. (Sometimes these things are portions of my skin, which is admittedly somewhat painful.)

And so it was with the semi-finality of today's match with Greece! My mates shared my enthusiasm— all of our cylinders were afire, and we hit-and-run the Grecians for a most dominant victory. If we can defeat Serbia on the morrow, we shall bring Spain its first ever European gold medal in basketballs. Wish us luckiness! (The game will be visible on espn360 at 12:15 PST.)
Fotos from FIBA Europe.


Jostle with Care

The claw and the spark return! Team España had an outing yesterday against the previously unbeaten French in the Eurobasket tournament. The match began on a high voltage, with both teams charged up to capacity. What would ensue?

I soon learned, as moments after the tipping off, I received an overly-aggressive jostle from Boris Diaw. ¡Maldición! No one jostles me with impunity!

A visceral decision came from deep within, and I saw red. Unbidden, I began to unleash a move on our opponents known to my mates as the Spanish archer: El Bow! Thus jostling in return, I strove to be everywhere on defense... and I was successful in the endeavor! As I stripped the dignity and ball from yet another Frenchman, I thought I could hear Nic Batum cry out in desperation behind me, “Sacré bleu!” But that day, there could be no mercy.

The match went quickly; Pau Gasol assumed mastery of the parquet with well-nigh 30 points and innumerable rebounds. (My statistical meanings included 6 steals, 16 puntos, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. My overall estadísticas for Eurobasket can be found here.)

And so Team España moves on; what glory or ignoble fate awaits us next?
Foto from FIBA.


Señority Has Its Privileges

Due to the due diligence of Juan Carlos Navarro’s 8 for 11 strikes on 3-pointing, Team España completed a Polish conquest yesterday. This concluded our recent spate of matches at 2-1: Respective victories over Poland and Lithuania, preceded by a most bitter loss to Turkey.

And now we Spaniards are destined for a collision with Nic Batum and Tony Parker's undefeated Team Francia on the morrow! They are a wily group, but also capable of spurts of speed and fantastic leaps of imagination.

Remembering a memorable moment of Nic’s against the Lakers, I remind Pau not to allow a replay: “No permiten que el espigado jugador de encestar.”

Pau shakes his shaggy head sagely. “El equipo unido nunca será vencido,” he whispers. Yes, the team that plays together can not be torn apart. This gives me heart, and partially explains why I believe Team España can count for a good chance. Additionally, Nic Batum is only 21 years of age, while I am 24. So as a wag points out here, I possess the privileges of señority!
Top foto from RudyFans,
others from BlazersEdge.


The Claw and the Spark: Missing in Action?

Tension, excitement, nerves. No more, I beg of you! With a record of 2-1, Team España has twice salvaged victory with the most anorexic of leads. To review, our first three Eurobasket games were as follows: Serbia crushed us. Great Britain frightened us. And Slovenia proved expert at the coming-back and led us into overtime!

The claw and the spark are missing from the red color of Spain. None of my mates could believe what was happening, but it seems our opponents have been touched by magic wands while we Spaniards play as if in mud up to our ankles.

More worrisome, our next three opponents are all more formidable than these. Saturday is Turkey, Monday is Lithuania, and Wednesday is Poland. In Poland!

If need be, I am willing to be a pillar of certainty on which others can build. Otherwise, we will suffer a fate even worse than the one that awaited Rafael Nadal at the conclusion of his recent match!
Rudy foto from RudyFans,
Nadal foto from here.

Polish Basic Cable

One aspect of life in Poland is that we mates have time to take in the television programming of many countries in eastern Europe. Per ejemplo, Polish Basic Cable offered this piece on the difficulties facing field reporters:

And what impressions does one take away from this perplexing commercial? The influence of the Soviet Bloc still lingers eerily!


The Battle of Britain

The fourth quarter had been entered. Casting my orbs on the scoreboard, I could see that we, the reigning world champions, were down by four points against “GB”.

Great Britain?!

Our British opponents, had scrapped, scraped, and were prepared to toss us into the Eurobasket dustbin. Not to engage in hyperbole, but this would be the most colossal upsetting in international basketball history!

Desperation clouded out the latent gimpiness emanating from my isquiosural. (This injury precluded me from taking part in our shocking loss to Serbia the previous day.) And on our next defensive possession, I hit the accelerator in the passing lanes. I obtained a steal! Racing the court, I elevated— ¡Pum! ¡Esmaixada!

This dunking may have revived our wayward limbs, as we went on to a hardscrabble 84-76 victory. We survive another day. But will this battle with Britain inject life the torpor of our team play?
Rudy foto by Paco Martin.


Eurobasket Viewing (and Tongued-Cheeks)

A multitude of Team España’s Eurobasket matches can be viewed on-line at espn360. Further, those of you with a curiousness regarding my basketball classes may have an interest in the tongued-cheek commercials for YoSport in which I star.

El primero is below:


Tricky Ponies and Windmill Tilting

The ingenioso Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) was the author of Don Quixote, his satire on romance and chivalry. Yet there is a warning within his success, for Cervantes could be viewed as a one-trick pony. That is, despite a lifetime of letters, he is remembered for his single masterpiece.

My hoping is that Spain rides that pony of trickiness. In two of the last three Eurobasket championships, our team has advanced to the finals, only to lose to Lithuania (2003) and Russia (2007). On Monday, we, along with 16 other teams, commence altercations for anew, and many of the games will be visible worldwide due to Internet up-streaming. In the happy event that you see Team España, here are a few thoughts on differences between the American and European styles from one who has most intimate knowledge of both.

The Tallying: It is an immutable algorithm: As the three-point line is closer in international play, one can make more of them. This provides a banquet for me!

Game Time: A FIBA game is 40 minutes in length, not the NBA’s 48.

Defensive Conspiracies: The purest zone defenses, as well as more creative schemings are allowed in Europe. Beware if weakside defenders occupying driving lanes and shadowing the key. To sidestep them, the offense will employ weakside cuts and passes down low and back out to the three-point line, where I will ideally be waiting with bated breath.

Skill Settings: I cannot deny the trope that European players display superior dribbling, passing, and shooting skills. This is a reaction to the fact that few European coaches will enlist players with a 100 centimeter vertical leap but nascent team abilities. This is not necessarily the case in America! This focus on the most athletically gifted explains why many NBA players focus on one-on-one chances.

Respect: In Europe, coaches have greater prestige and typically earn as much or more than even players with the finest pedigree. This is hardly true in the NBA. Further, while Nate McMillan is an exception, I have seen that the typical NBA coach may suffer from a faltado el respeto (a lack of respect). The management will make the coach fall upon his sword if the team performs poorly, and the players know this.

But enough of these gatherings of wool. Let my leg rehab continue apace, so that in the coming matches, Cervantes can nod his approval from some distant heavens!

Top Rudy foto by Paco Martin, fence foto by Casey Holdahl for I Am a Trail Blazer Fan.


Isquiosural Regions (updated!)

While I have written extensively on ham in the past (here, here, and here, per ejemplo), the hamstring is not a body part I have dwelled upon. And yet, my recent injury means I must make a clearing up for misconceptions. So, in short, here is what happened.

I damaged my right leg while taking aim with a three-pointer. Specificity-wise, I have a small fibrillary break (2 cm) in the isquiosural of my right hamstring. Does this sound alarming? Even so, I will still travel with my mates to Vilnius, Lithuania for the continuations of our Eurobasket competitions.

One supposes this is an honorable, if not noble fashion for a basketball player to be impaired. (At least it is superior to cutting oneself while eating an apple.) But will I take the court in future Eurobasket matches? It is hard to say. That said, my isquiosural has never prevented me from meaningful action in the past!

Adición, 3 de Septiembre, 2009: I expostulated prematurely. I failed to take part in today's match. Lithuania defeated our team by the unseemly margin of 94-72. We lost for the first time this summer! Make of this what you will; for my part, I blame the near-mystical influence of a Lithuanian giant (and former Trail Blazer): Arvydas Sabonis.