Talk to Sergio Rodriguez about helping Rudy Fernandez through his first season and you may find that he gets a little annoyed. Not because he minds talking about his friend and fellow countryman, but because he doesn't understand why everyone thinks he's done something out the ordinary.
"He would do for me what I have done for him," says Sergio. "It is nothing special what I am doing. I am in Portland for three years, he comes from my country, he doesn’t speak English well, I have to help with everything. That’s normal. That’s not a big deal."
Maybe not to Sergio, but I know it was a big deal for Rudy. Being the humble, kind and good-natured guy that he is, Sergio doesn't like the idea that he's some kind of saint for helping out a friend.
"Like everyone says, ‘You are helping Rudy,’" he explains in a slightly sarcastic tone. "I mean, anybody would do that. If you have a person that comes from your country who is now far away from that country with the same circumstances, you’ve got to help him."
I know Sergio feels that way, and we in Portland are lucky for it, but I don't think it's necessarily something that "everyone would do." In a business that can often feel self-centered, it's actually somewhat rare to see someone put the needs of others on par with their own. The NBA is full of egos, and I don't think anyone would blame Sergio for being a little resentful of Rudy's popularity, but that's simply not who he is.
As for how Sergio thinks Rudy will get along without him, he's got no concerns. In fact, he thinks it will probably be a good thing.
"He’ll be totally fine," he said. I think after one year it’s better for him to be by himself because he’s going to learn more English. He won’t have everything easy. He will have to be independent. He will have to listen more. I think that will help him.
"I think Rudy loves Portland and Portland loves Rudy. He’ll be fine. He wants to play like every player. He wants to play, he wants to win and he wants to have fun. Those three things are principle factors for him and for everyone. He can play with everyone. He understands basketball. He will be fine. "