Rudy Fernández: “I promised my father that I would continue in the national team, that moves me” | basketball | Sports

The golden story of the men’s basketball team is the story of Rudy Fernández. The 38-year-old Balearic forward is the only player present in the six Spanish titles: two World Cups and four Europeans. His last success was an unforgettable Eurobasket in which he led a team that broke all odds. Rudy has worn the national jersey 250 times, just three behind Juan Carlos Navarro’s record. On the track he has known how to recycle himself, from that explosive player from his early days to the extremely intelligent reader of plays and games. This Saturday, in the World Cup debut against the Ivory Coast (3:30 p.m., La 2), the captain will once again command the rallying cry: Wall!

Ask. The Eurobasket was very special for you. How was it different from another tournament?

Answer. It was special because on a personal level I lost my father and it was a moment to be with my family. Seeing that in theory it was a new generation, a transition, which is what the selection wanted to do, I saw myself more being with my family than with the team. But talking to Sergio [Scariolo] and with my people, in the sense that being in the national team made me forget the personal, I made the decision to go and feel like a captain and above all as a player. It was a brutal experience because as the training and preparation were going, I could see that the kids wanted to and the little experience at that time made us stronger. The reward was the best of all.

P. How does it feel to be the captain of a group of younger players, with whom you even play video games?

R. Now I just played video games with Joel [Parra] and he beat me up. It is a form of union. It is doing things as a team, going to dinner together, doing activities that we can share. It is the essence that has been lived in these last two decades in which I have been able to be. That’s why we talk about The Family. They have instilled that in us and we try to instill it in the new generations.

P. Is this generation very different from yours?

R. Every era is different. Before the top 5 was Leiva and now he’s a reggaeton player whose name I don’t know. Everything is changing. It is a cycle and we cannot expect nothing to change. When I was young, I adapted to the way of being of the veterans. Now young people also adapt to the things that we older people have. It is an exchange. You give me this and I give you the other. That is what unites the group. Each one is comfortable doing what another usually does.

P. How should a member of The Family behave?

R. I am a very demanding person, because I have always been required to give my best. But at the same time I am the first when it comes to facing this type of championship that I say that you have to enjoy them. I have enjoyed basketball for many years, being in front of very strong teams and teams, and I did not think that I could compete against these players. It is the luck that I have, to compete against players who are in the NBA, who are stars, and that makes me come to a World Cup at the age of 38 that I do not know if I will win, but that I am going to enjoy it as if it were the first time. That’s what I tell young people, that they enjoy the opportunities that life and sport give you. We represent a shirt that has a lot of value and a lot of history and that has a country behind it. That has always been the first thing on my mind. Apart from the results, when I put this shirt on it makes me give my best, enjoy and demand myself. If the results do not arrive, you leave with your head held high.

Rudy Fernández, in a preparation match for the World Cup.
Rudy Fernández, in a preparation match for the World Cup.ALBERTO NEVADO FEB

P. Why do you feel responsible for not being aware of Ricky Rubio’s mental health problem?

R. I feel responsible because, forgetting about the player that I am, and the captain, in the end I am a friend of his. I always talk to him, I know his family, his friends. I’ve known him since he was 14 years old because we went to school together. It is hard for me. I’ve always thought that when a friend needs help, he needs a hug. For me a hug is the most important thing, it is the most heartfelt, because you don’t need words, just that feeling. It’s like when a baby is born, what skin-to-skin transmits. That’s what it is with Ricky, hugging each other without saying anything, letting him know that he has me for whatever he wants. He knows. I’ve already been able to talk to him. That’s why I feel guilty for not having been able to see him before because I know that a friend needed that hug.

P. How was the promise you made to your father about the selection?

R. I promised him that I would continue playing with Spain, and that motivates me to continue. My father, apart from the player he was, was very demanding with me and my sister. And I think that this demand has made us get where we are. When his illness was known [cáncer], the 2019 world championship was coming. And there was something that struck me. The doctor who operated on him told me: “Rudy, the operation went well. What we do assure you is that he will see the World Cup, and he will see that you are going to win it ”. That impressed me. Win the World Cup! Then I spoke with my father, who after the operation was more like him, after having removed the tumor, and I told him that he did not see me for the World Cup. He told me: “Rudy, the national team is your family too. I feel like you have to play. For me, watching you play gives me life”. When I heard that I thought that the more I play, the more my father is with me. At the Eurobasket I felt it from up there and I know that as long as I keep playing he will continue to enjoy me wherever I am. That is what moves me. As long as the injuries respect me and I can continue competing, I’ll be there. What is very clear to me is that if next year I’m not at a very good level and the coach tells me that he doesn’t see me, he won’t even need to tell me. I will step back for the new generations to enter. I’m not selfish in that sense. The important thing is that you can contribute.

P. How and when do you use the hyperbaric chamber?

R. I use it when I can. I try to take a nap there, although when you have children the schedules change a lot. In championships like this World Cup I try to bring it, today I spent three hours there. It’s something I’ve been doing for a few years and I’m doing well to recover. Older people don’t recover as much as young people and that kind of help is always good.

P. How did you tell Luka Doncic that he couldn’t play pocha in games with Spanish players?

R. On top of that, Luka is very good at playing pocha. We started playing for Real Madrid and he was one of the winners. He gives everything good to the guy. In the Eurobasket he many times wanted to come and play with us but we told him no, that it was up to the team and he should try to play with the Slovenians. That’s when you realize what a wonderful person he is. He is a great player, but he is still the same.

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