Feliz Cumpleaños, Rudy!

The all-rookie dunker turns twenty-four this month. We want to make his big day memorable.

By Benjamin Golliver May 19, 2009 Published in the April 2009 issue of Portland Monthly

One of the truest measures of fame is being on a first-name basis with the entire world: think Madonna, Cher, Ringo. Or, perhaps, “Ruuuudy!” as thousands of Blazermaniacs scream at the Rose Garden on game nights. Since arriving in Portland last September, guard Rudy Fernandez has delighted Blazers fans with his electric play and given us one more reason to shell out $10 for a nosebleed seat. But it can’t be easy for the six-foot-six Spanish wonder to be more than five thousand miles away from home on his twenty-fourth birthday (April 4), and we’d hate to see homesickness mess with Rudy’s game—especially heading into the playoffs. So to help make the transition into his midtwenties (and to Portland) as smooth as possible, we’ve assembled this basket of our favorite Spain–Portland fusion gifts.

1. Clyde Drexler poster

Legend has it that Rudy grew up with a Clyde Drexler poster on his bedroom wall, so we snagged one of the ex-Trail Blazer to help Rudy decorate his new Portland home. While shopping, we couldn’t help but notice that the Rudy Fernandez posters were almost sold out.

2. La Sportiva hiking boots

Rudy hails from Palma de Mallorca, an island town that’s also the Spanish royal family’s summer vacation home. Clearly, his footwear collection has had to transition to our foul Northwest weather: Northeast Portland’s Mountain Shop carries a large selection of boots by the Spanish brand La Sportiva. A pair of these should help Rudy overcome any culture shock with European style.

3. The Unforgiving Coast: Maritime Disasters of the Pacific Northwest by David Grover

If there’s one tie that binds Spain and Oregon, it might be a history of calamity on the open seas. Spaniards suffered a brutal armada defeat in 1588; Oregonians are still trying to forget the New Carissa, the freighter that wrecked Coos Bay’s coastline in 1999. Ergo, The Unforgiving Coast offers an opportunity for bonding.

4. Black Mamba hot sauce

While playing for the Spanish national team during the Beijing Olympics, Rudy twice matched up against the “Black Mamba,” Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers. Now for a real challenge: slather some of this “venomous hot sauce,” available from Tigard hot-sauce haven, on a batch of patatas bravas (fried potato tapas).

5. Alma chocolates

While the Spanish are believed to have discovered chocolate more than five hundred years ago during their conquest of the Aztec empire, they kept the sweet treat a secret from their European brethren for more than a century. We, on the other hand, aren’t so stingy, which is why we offer this selection from Alma, a Northeast Portland chocolatier whose concoctions have been making mouths water for about three years. Alma is Spanish for “soul”—appropriate, since Rudy’s audacious passing skills recall those of the soulful Magic Johnson. An added bonus: Rudy needs to add a few pounds to his rail-thin frame. We’ve heard chocolate can help with that.

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