Friday, September 25, 2009
Nothing Commercial About Przybilla
Joel Przybilla has no interest in pursuing a career in acting once his playing days are over, but he seems comfortable enough in front of the camera during a Ford commercial shoot in the parking garage of the Rose Garden. He’s loose, takes direction well and doesn’t seem bothered by saying the same line over, and over, and over again. But in no way is Joel enjoying himself. He’s not accustomed to, nor does he desire, time in the spotlight. For Przybilla, it’s probably the worst part of the job.
It’s tough anywhere to go through life incognito as a seven-footer, but in Portland, for Przybilla, it’s impossible. It's one of the reasons why he spurned my repeated attempts for summer interviews. As a favorite of the NBA’s most dedicated fanbase, his desire to be an anonymous face in the crowd will be forever unrequited, and he’s come to terms with that, but when I pull out my camera on the set, Joel utters a familiar phrase in his rejuvenated Midwest accent that I’ve not heard since the end of the season.
“You know how I feel about those things.”
I do know. Joel hates having his picture taken. Hates talking on camera even more, which is why I’m a bit surprised he’s as adept as he is on set. He’s only got one line (“Take good care of her”), which he is asked to perform as both “nice guy Joel” and “bad guy Joel” and he does a fine job channeling both personalities. He insists on shaking hands during the scene with the explanation that it’s what he would do in real life. The same goes for opening his own door rather than allowing his parking attendant co-star to do so. Even though he’s acting, he doesn’t want anyone to get the impression that fame and fortune have changed the kid of Monticello, MN.
He also doesn’t want anybody to get the wrong idea about his ambitions. Joel’s a working class guy with working class values, so he’s not interested in profile or name recognition. I know this to be true. While trying to convince him, for my own selfish purposes, that more exposure would be good for his image, Joel’s face shows nothing but disinterest.
“I’m happy with my profile right where it is,” he says, motioning his hand downward toward the concrete parking garage floor as if to indicate the lack of importance he puts on things like name recognition.
Which is why you won’t have to worry about Przybilla going into training camp. He is now, as he’s always been during his time in Portland, a consummate pro. He’s going to do what is asked of him whenever it is asked. Starting, coming off the bench, doesn’t matter. These things are of little importance to a guy who, in his tenth season, is ready to win now. Fans may worry about the importance of playing time and whether Nate McMillan can keep everyone happy when it comes to minutes, but when it comes to Przybilla, no such issues exist. And that’s not an act.