"El Manco de Lepanto" and Pain Resistance

Those who saw my gimped gait in a recent match may wonder, "Does Rudy's left knee throb in unbearable pain?"
For an answer, we turn to the youthful years of Miguel de Cervantes. After engaging in a duel in 1570, he was obliged to leave Spain and travel to Rome. There, Cervantes had to prove himself a hidalgo, or a man of “clean” blood without Jewish, Arabic, or southern Californian ancestors. (Such foolish prejudices…in two of the three cases, anyway!) 

Thus, a year later, Cervantes found himself aboard an Italian warship and in a naval battle against the Turks! The hidalgo engaged in hand-to-hand fighting, even after sustaining a harquebus blast to his left arm!

This left Spain’s greatest writer maimed for life, and earned him the sobriquet el manco de Lepanto, or the one-armed man from Lepanto. And while it was surely painful, Cervantes was so proud of his crippled arm, he boasted of it until his dying day.

So when you ask me if my left knee hurts, I can only reply in the spirit of Cervantes! Each throb of my knee is an affirmation of my red, Spanish blood and each faltering step is taken with off-kilter nobility! (Of course, I have an advantage that Cervantes was unable to employ: El Advilo.)
Rudy graphic by YikesItsCameron


Questioning the Unquestioned

A good match last evening! My leg gave me some pains, but no matter. The besieged Dallas Mavericks timed out, and as we took a respite from the match, Coach McMillan enthused:

"You've just reeled off 12 unanswered points!" he said. "Keep it up!"

"You mean 'unquestioned points', yes?" I responded. As all orbs in the huddle rotated to me, I added, "As the Mavericks are not challenging our baskets, that signifies they do not question our ability to score!"

A moment of silence. This was broken by Andre Miller crying in his high-pitched voice, "Let's go get them!"

"Without question!" I added. Then, just to be safe, "Or answers!"

For a view of my post-match attire, see below.

Foto from the Oregonian.


What Kind of Hair Product Do I Use?!

A number of unexpected queries came about during an event known as "internal media day." This is distinguished from external media day by both its concavity and the fact that I field questions from people who are not present.

Matters proceeded well until notorious glamour hound Andre Miller elbowed into my interviewings. Will his quest for media attention never end?


Beware the Banderilla of Fire!

Nursing my torn quadricep, I muse on how bullfighting is most similar to professional basketball. Both can be viewed as the noblest expression of a man’s soul…or as revolting spectacles involving crowds and blood!

In Spain, bullfights grew popular as a more humane entertainment than public executions. During the Inquisition, heretics were said to be “relaxed” into the arms of the Church as they burned at the stake. And with so many present to witness the deaths, who could be held responsible for the executions. Everyone? No one.

But with the Inquisition’s passing, jostling crowds were no longer able to seek entertainment at the auto-da-fé. So a ritualized drama that could replicate that horror became popular: Bull fighting! The manners in which the bull was dispatched were sometimes fantastical. (Take the banderilla of fire, a barbed harpoon loaded with lit firecrackers!)

After the matador gave the bull a final blow, the blood of the bull and whatever it represented (guilt? remorse? desire for ribs?) was symbolically washed off society’s hands. With so many present, who was really responsible for the bull’s death? Everyone. No one.

Now travel with me from the blood-soaked bull-fighting arenas of Barcelona to the blood-soaked pavilion called the Rose Garden here in Portland, Oregon. Our trusty general manager, Kevin Pritchard, may soon be fired for the heresy of choosing the oft-injured Greg Oden instead of Kevin Durant. Should this take place, Pritchard’s fate will be that of the bull: He will be relaxed into the arms of the crowd, a sacrificial symbol of failure.

Pritchard’s theoretical unemployment would thus be externalized as the fault of everyone…and no one. (But at least we will be grateful that the deed was committed without resorting to a banderilla of fire!)
Fotos from the AP, Getty Images, the Sporting News.


Philosophers Can Get You Fired

My courtship with the Trail Blazers, began with an official calling me while I lay on Mallorca’s warm sands.

Hola, Rudy? This is Tom Penn of the Portland Trail Blazers. Do you understand English?”

“Yes,” I replied, “I understand English perfectly, provided it is spoken with a Spanish accent.” This detonated a barrage of laughter and led to my joining my Portland mates.

So learning that Tom had been relieved of his duties was a surprise to me! None speak overtly of the matter. But apparently, Tom had “philosophical differences” with his colleages. 

True, that is! Tom is a Socratic adherent, while most staff members are neo-Aristotleans. Further, Tom’s manners were substandard, and in the NBA, a place where courtliness is prized above all. 

But in deference to Tom, I would rather have tapas at the beach without ado, than feed upon turkey at another man’s table where one is fain to sit mincing his meat an hour, and be always wiping his fingers and his chops, and never dare to sneeze or play Guitar Hero, though he has never so much a mind to it, nor do many things which a body may do freely by one’s self. 

That is how Socrates rolled!
Rudy foto from I Am a Trail Blazers Fan.


In the Air Last Night

How high can LaMarcus Aldridge leap? Behold!

But in matters of the air, my recent victory at the air hockey table may have been more impressive!


In Which the Spinal Columns of the Lakers Go “Pim! Pum! Pam!”

When Rice Krispies are marketed in Spain, they make these sounds: “Pim! Pum! Pam!” Thus, I was surprised come to the States and be exposed to “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” Onomatopoeia is not the international language I thought it was!

Cereals aside, my mates and I will perhaps make the playoffs this seasoning. If so, our ranking ensure matches with the Lakers, Mavericks, or Nuggets. Of these, my preference is for Los Angeles, and in anticipation of our battling them, and inspired by lyricists like the anonymous Rice Krispies writer and Lord Byron, I have penned a prescient poem for this possible event. Behold:

They came down like wolves upon the fold,
These cohorts gleaming in purple and gold;
The sheen of their jerseys like stars rippling on the sea,
Oh, injustice should Ron Artest wear them triumphantly!

Like the leaves of the forest in Portland so green,

Lakers fans in OUR pavilion —the Rose Garden— were seen.

And like the leaves of the forest when Autumn has blown,

Post-match, they lay withered, their team overthrown!

For Nic Batum spread his wings and rejected their blasts,
Andre Miller breathed in the faces of the foes he did pass;

And the eyes of the Lakers waxed dead and then chill!

And their hearts but once heaved, then forever grew still!

There lay Kobe Bryant, with his nostrils all wide,

And through them he blows the last breaths of his pride.

And the foam of his gasping lays white on the court,

While Pau Gasol seeks for his Spanish passport.

And there goes Lamar Odom, with spirits now crashin’,

Awaiting browbeatings from a nameless Kardashian!

And the Laker fans are all silent, as they stand all alone,

Their foam fingers unlifted, their noses unblown.

But the misguided blue and gold now grow loud in their wail,

As we Trail Blazers revel, and Adam Morrison we impale!

And mighty Greg Oden, who returned and smote like a sword,

Bows deeply at half-court: Our gigantic matador, ungored!

My apologies to Adam Morrison. The magical verse overwhelmed my senses at the end!


Bang Will Go the Dynamite...in Turkey!

I have recently confirmed my participation in the World Championships in Turkey during the summer months. True, this will mean I have battled on basketball courts almost nonstop for a series of years...with the exception of time off for back surgeries.

Yet surely none fear that this wearing and tearing will tire me? Behold my youthful exuberance! As you can see, I am prepared to drive to the basket like a homing pigeon lost in the towers of Barcelona!

Or perhaps I will pass the sphere instead. Either way.
Foto from here.


Andre Miller & Elevated Perceptions

Upon seeing Andre Miller sprint and deliver this transcendent hammer blow in Denver, I nearly lost touch with my senses. All of this year, practice included, I had no notion that the taciturn Stranger could achieve such dramatic heights!¡Esmaixada! 
As you can see, my mates and I watched this cataclysmic event with disbelief. How can I best describe it? I was dizzied and felt I was parading up into the tower of a castillo in constricting circles until, in the center, I finally looked up to gaze at the heavens…and instead of the heavenly firmament, saw this majestic figure instead!


Do You Think I Can Be Stopped?

The coaches often intone that "Defense starts with stops"! 

While I ponder that Zen koan, observe how I mince the meat of this credible defender. His stops never start...and then ¡Pum!


The Rattle of Plastic Sabers

I am of the hope that you have some quantities of hazel-nuts on your person, because I have a largish scoop! Our match against the Indiana Pacers revealed that Josh McRoberts rattles a plastic saber on the court. You see, after my drainage of a tres, McRoberts took exception and berated me. My response for my irascible former mate?

A smile.

For I knew a reason for McRoberts' antipathy: Grooming jealousy! It has always been thus between us. You see, upon entering an NBA locker chamber, an anthology of body odors assails one's nose. And yet even in this pungent atmosphere, when McRoberts was a Trail Blazer, he still somehow made his presence known!
Not to trumpet my own horn, but my grooming is impeccable. Bearing witness, note the image above. Although I am in motion, see how my hair is in perfect disarray? Contrast this with Mike Dunleavy's flailing moppiness!
Further, note the awed looks on the coaches behind me. They cannot help themselves, although they already know the secret origin of my savoir faire: Prudently chosen gels and a large pre-match glass of leche

Of course, one can not relax post-match...behold:

Rudy foto from the Oregonian.


Uno a Uno

Before our recent match in Memphis, Marc Gasol approached me with a sly smile. “Rudy!” he cried. “Do you know the difference between a man and a woman?”

Perplexed, I answered, “I can’t conceive!”

Marc’s jaw dropped. He said, “I can not match your wit, El Machetero! I was going to say ‘Only a man can survive in Memphis,’ but I retract this punching line.” 

A wise decision, my friend! It smacked of the weak sauce. And smackings of weak sauce should be avoided at all costs, as this defender of Yao Ming ascertained!

Although manliness on Mallorca was often defined by all-night flamenco dancing contests and knife fights, the truth is this: All that I needed to learn about toughness on the parquets comes from the cinematic epic Uno a Uno... starring Robby Benson as a character not unlike myself! While we players suffer misfortunes, so too do our fans...like this unlucky fellow in Memphis, who was chosen from the crowdings to attempt a dunk from a trampoline!

Fotos from the Oregonian and SI Vault.