Hola Hollywood! That’s hello in Spanish to me and my American brethren, but for ex-Trail Blazer, current Denver Nugget, and Spanish National Basketball Team member Rudy Fernandez, it’s an ode to the acting persona the dainty Spaniard has created for himself via his style on the hardwood.
I don’t miss Rudy. Call me callous, but any affection I once had for the budding superstar we thought we were getting more than 4 years ago, flew south (or in this case, east) at the sight of nearly three years’ worth of passive, no-defense-playin’, illadvised-3-point-shootin’ basketball in Portland, and shortly following one highly publicized flop during last weekend’s Olympic Gold Medal Game.
This was a player thought by many to be an intricate piece to Portland’s championship puzzle when he was acquired through a draft day trade more than 4 years ago. He was going to thrive alongside his countryman Sergio Rodriguez (so much that said duo was dubbed the “Spanish Connection/Armada”), run the court with Brandon Roy, and throw down high-flying dunks the likes of his 2008 Olympic highlight. But that Rudy never showed up and a much watered-down version of the aforementioned has been casting an annoying European shadow over a league and game its players like to consider “hard,” for the better part of his tenure during his American basketball career.
The “flop” as we’ve come to know it, has been on my radar since the days of Detroit’s “Bad Boys,” Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman. However, since the Pistons of the late-80’s and early-90’s, the European players have perfected the art form thought by yours truly to epitomize “weak sauce.” Beginning with Vlade Divac, continuing with players like Manu Ginobili (I know he’s from Argentina, but in this case, all pasty white foreigners unite) and Dirk Nowitzki, and now with the aforementioned Rudy Fernandez, drama queens from lands far away have upped the ante regarding accentuating contact.
And I don’t like it.
Not since … well … soccer has there been a more egregious nuance not only tolerated, but taught by experts of the game. You’ve seen it; a slightly built, greasy-haired individual (likely donning a ponytail) taken to the ground by means of a slide tackle or inadvertent contact, writhe endlessly back and forth, seemingly shot by a soon-to-be-three-named-individual from a clock tower, shake-off said injury after rising to his feet by an apparent act of God. Replay that scenario 15-20 times and you’ve got an average soccer game. The “flop” is no different. At some point, it not only became tolerated by the basketball community, but has now become “part of the game.” Coaches teach it and players willingly implement it as a means to winning.
Far too often following a flop, commentators suggest tolerance due to a player “just doing what he has to do to win” and suggesting that such effort is virtuous. Sorry, but there’s no honor in deception, and a flop is merely an attempt to do just that.
If you watched last Sunday’s Golf Medal Game, then you can likely recall Rudy’s now infamous flop. He took a somewhat inadvertent love tap from Andre Iguodala and turned it into the Nancy Kerrigan knee-whack. The 27-year-old Spaniard went to the floor like a dog in one of those “America’s Funniest Home Videos” shot by an innocent 6-year-old’s deadly finger, only to quickly hop to his feet just like the dog from that same low-budget production. Flopping isn’t virtuous and those who partake in such activity should be called-out for their part in a game of dirty pool.
So that’s what I’m doing: You’re cheating Rudy! That’s right, any attempt to manipulate the rules by means of theatre is hereby deemed pathetic and sad. So it be said, so it be done. I’ve seen enough of this breach of competitive law and Rudy Fernandez is the waif who broke this bull’s back.
Acting is an art form, basketball is a sport. If you can’t play the game, take your art form somewhere else. Hola Hollywood, Rudy, adios to the game we call basketball. I think it’s in everyone’s best interest.