Archive for July 3rd, 2008

A day removed from a much needed vacation, and Wednesday was all about the Portland Trail Blazers for yours truly.

Back to work.

I had two stories hit at once: one on HOOPSWORLD detailing how Portland and Spanish import Rudy Fernandez finally reached a contract agreement. The other at Associated Content.com – an interview with the Portland Tribune’s Kerry Eggers who has worked the Blazers beat since 1989.

As Kerry explained – and I’m coming to realize more and more – similarities can be drawn between those early 90’s Rip City teams led by Rick Adelman and today’s franchise of Brandon Roy and company. Kerry drew the conclusion easily: both teams were about character, but now it is even more of a focus. And while Clyde Drexler actually led Portland to the NBA Finals twice, Eggers believes an NBA Championship is in the Blazers future, perhaps more than once.

Much thanks goes out to Kerry Eggers by the way.

Can’t believe he actually bought it when I told him the interview would only be a couple minutes long. About fifteen minutes later, we were still yapping away. In all honestly though, for guys like me – covering the NBA, didn’t go to Journalism school or major in English, haven’t worked for a paper (until freelancing recently)- other sportswriters, be it beat guys or columnist, truly become your professors in some ways. Yes, being thrown into the fire and learning from experience five years deep in the game is the best teacher. But if you can bend the ear of a well traveled sportswriter, the mentoring is well worth the time.

I tend to do so between a lot and often.

I know there is some well publicized tension between “old media” (newspaper guys) and “new media” (online media types and the ever-popular bloggers), but for me, I’d rather learn from those who’ve gone before me instead of casually venting about how the dinosaurs in this business are extinct and it’s time for some “New Kids On The Block.”

That’s not me. I see the value in each aspect – both “old” and “new” – while befriending the outlets equally.  

You could make the same argument about the Portland Trail Blazers. They’ve easily started to tap into their rich history of late, only to trust openly in what the future will yield.

Surely the addition of Fernandez will fuel that fire- a multiple MVP winning shooting guard who is only 23.

Got word from the Blazers yesterday morning a conference call was being arranged and five hours later I was on the phone with Rudy, GM Kevin Pritchard and fellow members of the Portland media. Rudy’s broken English was hard to decipher at times. But he gave it a go.

El niño tuvo su propio.

As Rudy switched to and from his native tongue to English, it was clear Fernandez is eager to get on the court to show he belongs in the NBA. His dream is now a reality. You don’t need a translator for that talk. Yet Pritchard also explained how the expectations – including those that will become unfair – is just another adjustment Rudy is going to have to make (not to mention stomaching how Rudy left a lot of money on the table over in Europe to simply play for Portland). But Rudy said it clear for all to hear.

“It’s not about the money.”

Finally in this business of professional basketball– and it is a business – those five words are truly believable.

It wasn’t an easy task to lure him here either, that’s for sure. Pritchard put in work. So did owner Paul Allen. So did Nate McMillan, and you can’t forget Portland’s scouting team. Well done gents. And now that Rudy is officially a Blazer, many can’t help put drool over the visions of a Roy and Rudy backcourt, with LaMarcus Aldridge, Travis Outlaw and Greg Oden filling the lanes.

Is it late October yet?



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