The Korean absolutley loves the NBA and his Los Angeles Lakers. So he was not going to miss any part of the NBA All-Star Weekend, including the Dunk Contest. Among the contestants was the first European player ever to participate in the Dunk Contest, Spaniard Rudy Fernandez of Portland Trailblazers . Check it out.
Pretty sweet dunks, and the Korean thinks the judges underrated him. But the point that the Korean made about nationalism, and the fact that Americans don't understand it, was in full display in this little vignette.
In the first dunk, Fernandez takes off his own jersey and shows off the jersey of Fernando Martin, the first Spain-born player to play in the NBA. The significance of it is utterly lost on the commentators. To be sure, NBA All-Star Weekend is about antics and fun. This is the only time in the year when you can see Dwight Howard trying to cross over Kobe, and laugh at him for failing miserably at that. So it is somewhat understandable that the commentators are not very much into honoring a Spain-born basketball player whose career was cut short by a car accident.
For the second dunk, Fernandez enlists the help of Pau Gasol of Los Angeles Lakers, a fellow Spaniard. Now this is a major sin for the commentators. You can tell it particularly rankles Reggie Miller, a former star player for the Indiana Pacers, who says in incredulity, "This is a division rival right here, Portland and Los Angeles. What's up with that?"
This is a case of Americans simply not getting it. In the mind of Fernandez from Spain, a nationalistic country, Rudy Fernandez represents Spain first, Portland Trailblazers second. So it totally makes sense for Rudy Fernandez to get the help from Gasol, the most high-profile Spanish player in the NBA, rather than, say, Brandon Roy of the Portland Trailblazers.
Clearly, there is no right answer in this. Fernandez is correct in some respect. He could have been signed by any NBA team, and he could traded at any moment. Portland Trailblazers cannot be more important than Spain. On the other hand, Reggie Miller is correct in some respect as well. NBA All-Star is about representing NBA teams, not where the players are from. If Dwight Howard of Orlando Magic, native of Atlanta, Georgia, got a help from his former high school teammate and fellow Georgian Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, there would have been riots on the streets of Orlando. This little episode is a great illustration of how Americans think, as opposed to the rest of the nationalism-inclined world.
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