J.R. Smith is all that exists (to J.R. Smith!)

"I see . . . me!"
During the blow-outing that the Denver Nuggets meted out to us last evening, J.R. Smith made a most unwelcome gesture to our bench.

Yes, after his successful launching at the distant basket, he donned the three-goggles.

Blasphemy? Perhaps. But my cogitation is that J.R. is misunderstood. You see, he is an armchair philosopher, though the armchair in question is threadbare. As J.R. is clearly centered around his own self, I once asked him if he was a solipsist during warm-ups.

J.R. nodded uncertainly to my query. To make the Nugget more at ease, I identified myself as a solipsist as well.

I’ve been a solipsist all my life,” J.R. responded. “I’m surprised there aren’t more of us.
Foto from the Oregonian.


Looking Glasses and Three-Goggles

In my childhood home in Mallorca, my bedchamber was wallpapered with mirrors. I would stand between the looking glasses and shoot the basketballs of Nerf. Doing so, I could see an infinite number of Rudys shooting as one!

This led to issues of profundity. Which Rudy through the looking glass was the real one? Was I me? Or was I the me who was once-reflected? Or thrice-reflected?

This was my first confrontation with the deep nature of existence.

It was also my last. I have better uses of my time! And with these much-ballyhooed “three goggles”, I see reality for what it is!

To be sure, not all of my mates agree. While Patty Mills is also an enthusiastic wearer of three-goggles, he still enjoys discussions on the layers of reality. In fact, he phoned me today to engage in just such a debate. But I made a pre-emptive thrust of the sword.

Patty, are you at home?” I asked.

Yes, I am, mate. Why?” said the antipodean point guard.

Because I am also at home. And that means that this argument cannot be resolved. We are arguing from two different premises!
Top photo from TruthAboutIt.net,


¡Cogito, Ergo Sum Fantastico!

How many years does it take to become a man? At 22, Alexander the Great had crushed the Illyrians, razed Thebes, and kicked Darius and his immense Persian Empire in the nether regions.

At 23 tender years, René Descartes shocked the world of philosophy with his revolutionary thoughts. And when Napoleon possessed only 24 annums, he overthrew the enemies of the French Republic! 

But Brandon Roy is now a venerable 26. And he claims to have voyaged over the hill

So it is written, so it shall be. Roy is an hombre viejo, gray of beard and creaky of limb. And this opens the minutes of playing time for me? Then with the vast capacities of youthfulness that being a year younger than Roy endow me with, I will show fans fine play...and even finer chalupa shots!

Top foto by Steve Evans.


Culturally Shocked

Paul Pierce from here.
As an amateur herpetologist, I possess two queries:

1.) Can anyone describe the antecedents of "Halloween"?
2.) What exactly is its relationship to amphibians?


A Colloquial Conundrum

The Oregonian
Our Coach McMillan frequently instructs me to “milk the clock.” Yet try as I might, I see no glándulas mamarias upon the timekeeping device!

(Yet if I could find them, what strange leche would they produce?)


El Momento de la Verdad

In mere moments, my mates and I begin our season with a tip-off against the Phoenix Suns and their noted assassin, Goran Dragic.

The Slovenian's dread (yet oddly luminous) presence helps me put my memories of my ill-considered summer comments behind me. If I remember how much easier it is to remember what I would rather forget than remember, than remember what I would rather remember than forget, then I can’t forget how much easier it is to forget what I would rather remember than forget, than forget what I would rather forget than remember.

I hope that is clear. 

From the Oregonian
For now, my spirits are high! You may think this is partially because we have now signed fellow Spanish speaker Fabricio Oberto? If so, you’re growing warm!

Is it because I now have a fellow brother-in-stubble? Now you are growing in your hotness!

Is it because my bestubbled, Spanish-speaking mate owns his own winery? Ah, now the heat should burn like syrah in the eyes, mi amigo!


Tricks of the Devil & Womanish Surrender

As my preseasonings have progressed, I have let my play do my speaking for me. And to be sure, my estadísticas have been most articulate!

As for myself, I don’t wish to prattle further about my earlier stated wish to return to España.

Yes, I dream of Barcelona, Madrid, and Mallorca nightly. Yes, I sometimes sit bolt-upright in bed speaking Catalan. But the trademark of a professional athlete is that he then returns to slumber without calling his agent and insisting on a trade.

So for the last time, I don’t want to talk about it!

But if I were to do so, I would say that it is not my task to inform the media of my every emotions. In the history of men, it is glorious action that provides all lessons for posterity. Do we need to know how El Cid felt when his conquest of Valencia was complete? Would it magnify the glory of Caesar to have a record of his sentiments when the assassins’ knives pierced his body?

Actually, that might be of interest! Nonetheless, emotions are but tricks of the devil, sent to tempt us into doubt. No man of sense (por ejemplo, Andre Miller) pays them heed, for they are a surrender to womanish sentiment that should be concealed from the media if they cannot be suppressed in the heart.

For I say, it is the task of every athlete —El Machetero included— to overcome our passions, not to trot them out in all their intensities for others to comment upon!

P.S. Mamá, how I miss you!
Bottom two fotos from the Oregonian.


In Which I Remove an Albatross (from my neck) and a Primate (from my backside) at the Same Moment!

Americans are sometimes surprised to learn that the Communist Party is the third largest political party in Spain. Thus, I know many Communists! In fact, in Mallorca this summer, I chatted amiably with a local Communist while sunning at the beach.

“Rudy,” he asked me, “have you read Marx?”

To this I nodded and replied, “Yes, and I think it’s from the wicker chairs that the beach-goers sit upon.”

Photo by Ben Golliver
This brings to mind some of my other off-court shenanigans this summer. As is known, I have variously:
1.) Requested a release from the Portland Trail Blazers.
2.) Demanded a trade from the selfsame team.
3.) Been fined $75,000 by the NBA.

To explain myself, let me give an overview: In performing on the basketball courts, I play a function of vitality: I remake reality — embellishing or diminishing it— through the magic of my movements.

So it is OFF the parquets as well. The contradictions I pose are not mere gratuities — I purposely perform them to fill in the insufficiencies of life!

You see, when life is full and absolute, and citizens are committed to their destinies with an all-consuming faith, an athlete performs no real service at all.

But when the faith if the peoples is shattered by crisis, it is necessary to believe in SOMETHING. This season and last, I saw people grow uncertain about the world (and afterworld!) they inhabit. Thus, my mercurial actions were designed to unite Portland in one absolute and trusting vision together once again: Namely, that I am an untrustworthy rapscallion!

Where did I come by such a wayward notion? It is well you ask. I was enlisted to this cause by a player who is so Machiavellian, so diabolical, he makes Iago resemble a leader of the pre-schoolers. (Gaze upon his visage if you dare!)

And now that I have explained myself to you, can someone explain to ME why Pau Gasol and his mate Kobe Bryant were used to promote the FIBA World Championship?

Rudy glowering foto by Ben Golliver.


Bucket Busting

In my native Mallorca, we have an idiom that translates as "busting the bucket." It has to do with both death and scatology...that is to say, a fatal movement of the bowels!

This unfortunate turning of phrase was brought to mind by my interview stylings over at the estimable Bust-a-Bucket website. Please to enjoy!

Lithuania y un Faltado el Respeto

Ah, my mates and I on the Spanish National Team are in straits most dire! Following defeats at the hands of France and Lithuania, we, who are the champions of Europe, are in danger of being scuppered from the tournament.

And worse, ever since I was a young player, I dreamed of dunking in every attack. Apparently, I was not alone in my airborne ambitions!


Existencialismo & Dunking

What is the importance of a dunk? There is none. Or perhaps, there an importance of meager proportions. Even as I soared like an Iberian condor against New Zealand, I knew that it will never matter to the world that I dunked individually. But by acknowledging the weaknesses of the dunk, perhaps my meager faith in it becomes all the more potent.

The implicit question is why, in the face of the possible futility of all human endeavoring, I dunk at all?

My answer: Dunking is a means to more dunking. And scoring against an adversary is a good first step toward illuminating one’s manhood! Further, dunking may not offer solutions, but poses good entertainments. And while, following losses to both France and the U.S., I am tempted to say that perhaps this is ALL that dunking really does, we must wait and see how we fare in further World Championship matches first!


In Which Team USA Plays Into My Strategy!

You have perhaps heard the wise cliché? “Losses build character.” Behold me: I am a character! You see, life itself is a series of losses…we lose our looks, our memory, our ability to dribble in traffic, our friends and coaches. And the sport of basketball lends us an assist in confronting such sorrows!

So the despair my mates and I and our fans felt in the exhibition match against the USA team was merely grief-in-training for our real-life defeats to come.

And the USA is now unencumbered with grief. They are unshriven! Kevin Durant and companies have run no gauntlets and been found wanting! Thus, they will be pickings of an easy nature when the tournament matches count. (Or so my current theory holds!)


Why Do I Prefer Playing in Europe?

Because it's more civilized!

Caged Match

"The prisoner running as the guards shoot at him, believes for a moment that he is free."

As an athlete whose game has been shackled this season past, I have gently let it be known that I have a slight preference to not re-join the Portland Trail Blazers. While my discourse has been most civil and reasonable, this has led to the harshest recriminations…including a column from one journalist who advises I be left to rot! (This is an unlikely eventuality; as a sun-wizened Mallorcan, my flesh has the consistency of Iberian jerky.) 

For any confusions regarding my status activations, I blame the English tongue! To wit, view this interchange between Coach Nate McMillan and myself.

Myself: With all due respectiveness, I would like to engage in more activities on the parquet.

Coach McMillan: I’ll do my best to give you more court time.

But in the endless convolutions of legal scholars and basketball coaches, THIS is what the coach actually meant: 
“As a conveyance of our oral agreement, I will give you due consideration regarding the right, title and claim, for playing time including the attached privileges of dribbling, shooting, passing, and seeking steals from the opposition along with your entitlement's full power to turn the ball over to the opposition, suck, and ogle opposing cheerleaders all within the context of my existing offensive schematics which will rarely utilize the skills you feel you possess to the greatest advantage, the opinions of you and/or your agent to the contrary notwithstanding.”
Court cage by Jake Stangel,
fallen matador by REUTERS.


Passing the Trade Winds

Marc GasolOyes, Rudy, I have a question.
Myself: Why have I made request for a trade to New York, Boston, or Chicago?
Marc: What? No! I was going to tell a joke about why the beard of a Spaniard can only grow to the length of a centimeter. Is this trade you speak of truth?
Marc: So while you relocate to a world-class city with excellent air travel to España, I will continue to labor in the perdition known as—
Myself: Memphis. But what of your joke, mi amigo?
Marc: There is no joke.
Foto from aquí.


¡España Está en el Campeonato de la Copa del Mundo!

¡Pum! Just this season, I formulated a prediction to my Blazer mates that Spain's fútball team would make a fine performance at the World Cup. And nobody was believing myself at that time!

But for the usual American basketball player, soccer occupies the same level of interest as Estonian literature. Ah well... even so, the Dutch soccer squad had best bring its unique courage to the championship match. ¡Enhorabuena a España!


¿El Machetero en la Gran Manzana?

I find myself amidst a swirl of trade rumors placing me in a New York Knicks costume! Can it be? I recall playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time two years ago. I suffered mild disappointments, as its court is actually rectangular, but the volume of Spanish fans there was most encouraging.

Even so, will I reside and compete in an arena of another's choosing? Is this free will free? On Palma de Mallorca, the tale is told of the folk hero Jorge Preguntos. Walking along a deserted beach one evening, Jorge noted a group of horsemen riding toward him.

Filled with terror that these were ruffians or cutthroats, Jorge leapt over a nearby wall and laid next to it, quivering with fear.

The horsemen, who were simple travelers, were fascinated by this odd reaction, and so they rode to the wall and spied Jorge lying down on the other side.

Can we be of assistance?” they asked. Jorge shook his head. The riders then asked, “What are you doing here?

Jorge responded, “It’s a complicated situation. You see, I am here because of you. Yet you are here because of me!

And so we see how the actions of men with free will collide in uncertain ways, and create a scenario that neither party willed at all! Thus is the dilemma of destiny constantly defined...along with an even weightier question: What in el mundo IS a Knickerbocker?


Snowfall on the Parquets

To see my amigo, Pau Gasol, luxuriate in the successes of his NBA championships puts me in two minds regarding fame and fortune. On the one frontal lobe, it seems an act of madness for a man to pursue fame and fortune when he could be sitting in the sunshine reading a book.

But on the other frontal lobe, I cannot deny the flaming syrups of ambition that boil through my veins! As an illustration, years ago, Pau and I were part of a touring basketball club. 

In one of our squad’s excursions, we came to a small village in the Basque mountain country. There we stopped to refuel the team bus and dine.

It was a most miserable place! The town was tiny, and yet underpopulated.

Looking about, Pau spoke in wonderment: “Rudy, you know, even here there are men attempting to advance, to gain higher offices and competing fiercely with bitter rivals over who will be most eminent.”

My answer? “I would rather be the first man here than the second in Madrid.” And at that moment, I believed it!

A Basque proverb springs to the fore: “The snow falls not to cover the mountain, but so that a man may leave his tracks in it.”

And the same is true of the snow that falls on the basketball court. ¡Pum!


Of Tennis, Norse Gods and Leo Tolstoy

In the off seasonings, I make points of attending the Madrid Tennis Open. Is this because I have always loved tennis? No— I once harbored a revulsion for the sport! It seemed a pastime for social climbers and the insincere. 

To explain my attitudes, let me ask: Have you have read Anna Karenina? In this massive tale, Leo Tolstoy writes of characters named Vronsky and Anna. Poised on the fringes of their own moral abysses, the two of them play tennis by swatting futiley at the passing ball.

“Such is the foolishness of bourgeois sport!” Tolstoy seems to say. Yet when he wrote the scene, the great Russian had never PLAYED tennis! And when, at the age of 68, Tolstoy DID learn tennis, he was hooked, lined, and sinkered. Tolstoy suffered from a tennisonian addiction for the rest of his days!

For an entire summer, Tolstoy played tennis for three hours or more each day. And while he lost individual matches, none could stand against him for those hours…and so houseguests, relatives, and children would rotate in to try to return the volleys of the greatest Russian novelist!

In this fashion, I related to Tolstoy but instead of playing tennis, I watch it in marathon bouts each summer at the Madrid Tennis Open. You see, Rafa Nadal is from Mallorca! And he hammered the tennis ball with the abandon of a Norse god on his way to victory...ah, the champagne flowed in Trimalchian quantities!

This puts me in mind of a Norse joke. It seems that Thor, the god of thunder, found himself stranded overnight in Midgard, the realm of the humans. 

Seeking lodging at an isolated farm, Thor disguised himself with a massive cloak and asked the farmer for lodging. Reluctantly, the man let the god in and silently pointed to a room, which Thor happily occupied.

That night, the farmer's daughter paid Thor a visit, and the results of their meeting followed the usual pattern of these types of tales. 

In the morning, the young woman unceremoniously left the god's bed and made to leave. Outraged, the thunder-bolt hurler said, “You depart without even a fare-thee-well? How dare you? I am Thor!”

“I am thore too,” the farmer's daughter replied. “But it wath fun anyway!”
Rudy fotos from his Facebooking page,
Samuel Dalembert from the SI Vault.


Standing on the Shoals of Bethlehem with Autumn in My Heart

Peering from an elevation some centimeters in excess of six feet, I am accustomed to the tactics shorter folk use to address me. Most lean back, craning their neck to goggle upwards while straightening the shoulders. But I prefer those who simply gaze up with their eyes, refusing an obseisance of posture…as if it were I, not they, who were the more laughable eminence. It shows a most admirable pluck!

But then there are a few individuals with egg white in their veins and malice in their arteries who refuse to make eye contact at all, instead choosing to mutter insults under their breath from a safe distance. Such a fellow is this sports journalist whose name is comprised of initials most meaningful. Said rogue has a long-standing enmity against me, which I have long turned a deaf eye to…but now he claims that I defile the basketball gods? It is to laugh!
But while there are a plenitude of rejections I could apply to this scoundrel, it would only serve to dignify his crippled assertions. Virtue is the truest nobility, and doing good to base fellows is like throwing water into the sea. 

So to the aptly titled B.S., I state that private sin is not so prejudicial in this world as a public indecency. My pride is wounded, and I stand here, looking down at you with a basketball in my hand and autumn in my heart. May fungal spores multiply upon your foodstuffs! Good day.

Adición: Oh, and I found the remainder of your piece most entertaining!
Rudy foto from his selfsame Facebook page,
Guatemalan sinkhole by Luis Echeverria for AP,
Juan Carmichael going enloquecido from the SI Vault


Working Out & Knocking Oneself Up

Amid the locker chamber’s anthology of body odors, Greg Oden addressed me: “Spaniard, let’s go hoist dumbbells and yank pulleys in the weight room.”

“Knock yourself up,” I demurred. (In this fashion, I have managed to fend off many of his persuasive attempts this season!)

But this time, the ebon geriatric was not so easily put off. The expression is ‘knock yourself OUT’,” Greg answered. “To ‘knock myself up’ has an entirely different, biologically impossible expression.”

“I never let biological impossibilities stand in my way, whether on the parquet...or in the boudoir!” I proclaimed, while slyly exiting the chamber. When will it be known that weightlifting is not part of the Spanish paradigm?

Making my escape, this puts me in mind of other linguistic oddities. Per ejemplo, do you know why the French are reluctant to embrace American business models? It is because they don't have a word for “entrepreneur”!

And have I ever related news of the two Uzbek mates on my Badalona team in España? Their conversational gambits were most interesting. You see, it is customary for Uzbeks greeting each other to shout off a rapid series of questions. Meanwhile, his companion will do the same, all the while gesticulating wildly.

The bombardment might go thusly:

“Are you tired?”
“Is your work good?”
“How is your mother?”
“How do your free throws progress?”
“Do you like hot weather?”

These questions will serve as rhetorical devices…and as soon as one party actually ANSWERS a question, the conversation either commences or the two promptly bid adios.

Ah, a reminder to the self: I must try this gambit the next time Greg or a physicality trainer tries to lure me to the weights room!


Hand-Eye Coordination on the Glassy Seas

Engaging in basketball is like navigating a skiff on the blue waters of Mediterranean: One moment you use your oars, and then the sail…before you ran before the wind, but now you tack into it…once you caught the tide, and now you drain a three-pointer into some hapless soul’s grill!

But one aspect of my sailing skills that could utilize improvement is the ball handling. And I have just the program to commence!


Suavity. Debonairnessness. Polenta.

Being back on my sun-kissed isle of Palma de Mallorca, I have waxed philosophical on the seasoning past. My conclusion: Adversity is an unavoidable part of life…though not one I recommend!

I am now afforded opportunities to view Pau Gasol and his Laker-mates march to the Finals. Seeing Pau’s smooth operator-finesse on the parquet, it is perhaps no shock for my readers to know of his suavity in other realms of endeavor. For the centaur-like Barcelonan is both musically inclined...and epicurean in his tastes!

This puts me in mind of the fine composer, Gioachino Rossini. The Italian supposedly wept only three times in his life: First, when Rossini heard a singer strangling one of his arias. Second, after the premier of his then-new project, Il barbiere di Siviglia, or "The Barber of Seville." (This opera was a bigger flop than one of Manu Ginobili and Anderson Varejao masterpieces.)

The third time Rossini wept was when he saw a truffled chicken accidentally fall into a river. Truly, he was a man committed to the gustatory. As to this, Pau may be a dedicated gourmand, but I believe he has simpler tastes!

Gasol foto from the Blowtorch.


"Tener Duende": The Passion of Flamenco and Profanity!

Upon cleaning out my effects from the locker chamber in Portland’s pavilion, I saw something that Jerryd Bayless had scrawled on the white board. In a fit of angry passion over our final loss, he had written, “Sh**! Piss! F***!!!

“My friend,” I exclaimed, “you must be exhausted!”

But rest assured that I spoke in the admiration. For Jerryd had epitomized what we Spaniards call tener duende. It is a notion that has to do with the emotions and authenticity. For an American, tener duende might have the meaning as having soul. It is what gives your body a chilling reaction to the expressiveness of an artistic, athletic, or even profane expression!

When a three-point shooter has fires hot enough to burn, he has tener duende.  When a flamenco dancer closes her eyes and her twirling litheness gives way to a deeper concentration,  then does the elusive force of tener duende take possession of her form even as she captivates us all!

Not that I am paying particularly close attention.

How can tener duende be found? There is no map, there are no exercises, there is no one you can ask. Tener duende works on a basketball court the way that the hot winds blowing from Africa shape the sand dunes of the Spanish coast…and I thought that I saw tener duende at work here, in the unlikely form of these literary T-shirts. Behold, a delectable lady models a garment honoring Don Quixote himself!

“But is there a literary figure who models my número de cinco?” I wondered.

Sadly, there was…this sack of sadness modeling the number five for author Kurt Vonnegut! 

I am not here to pass literary fashion judgment…but at first glance, it does not seem likely that either the model OR the writer possesses tener duende!
Jerryd Bayless from Basketbawful,
T-shirts from Novel-T.


On Ostracism

The question is floated: Shall I make return to the Portland Trail Blazers next annum? There are many views among the learned scribes, but for the best analysis of sport, we must visit the democracy of ancient Athens! For it was there that the system of ostracism had beginnings.

Imagine the Athenians had to decide between two politicians for an office. If the citizens wished it so, the election could be an “ostracism” —that is, after the vote, one politician was chosen for office, while the other was exiled from the city!

To be accomplishing this, the Athenians scratched the name of the politician they wanted to be rid of on a piece of pottery called an “ostrakon.” If more than 6000 citizens cast ostrakons for a candidate, he went into “honorable exile” from Athens for a decade. (Of course, given what is happening in Athens today, an ostracism might be a welcome fate!)

It is no secret that Brandon Roy plays in front of me. And it is known that I am not Brandon Roy. If there were a vote for ostracism, I have no doubt I would be sent packaging. But there is also a third party at shooting guard, Martell Webster…so is our water hopelessly muddied?

The answer can be found in Grecian pasts! In 415 BCE, an excellent Athenian politician named Hyperbolus entered an ostracism match with TWO candidates, namely Alcibiades and Nicias. But though Hyperbolus was in a superior position, Alcibiades and Nicias pooled their political fortunes. In doing so, they managed to exile Hyperbolus! 

I mention this as a veiled offer to Martell Webster: Together, there is MUCH we can accomplish, mi amigo!
Fotos from the Oregonian.