¿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